Showing posts with label Net Neutrality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Net Neutrality. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2018

California enacts Net Neutrality law, Washington moves to block

California governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018 (Senate Bill 822), which prohibits fixed and mobile Internet service providers from blocking lawful content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices, impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service, or use of a nonharmful device, and specified practices relating to zero-rating.

The new law also prohibits fixed and mobile Internet service providers from offering or providing services other than broadband Internet access service that are delivered over the same last-mile connection as the broadband Internet access service, "if those services have the purpose or effect of evading the above-described prohibitions or negatively affect the performance of broadband Internet access service."

The U.S. Department of Justice immediately announced a lawsuit against the state of California regarding Senate Bill 822.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued the following statement: “I’m pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit.  The Internet is inherently an interstate information service.  As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area.  And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently reaffirmed that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law.   Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers.  The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits.  They have proven enormously popular in the marketplace, especially among lower-income Americans.  But notwithstanding the consumer benefits, this state law bans them.  The Internet is free and open today, and it will continue to be under the light-touch protections of the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.  I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Department of Justice to ensure the Internet remains ‘unfettered by Federal or State regulation,’ as federal law requires, and the domain of engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists, not lawyers and bureaucrats.”


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

U.S. Senate votes to rescind FCC order ending Net Neutrality

The FCC voted 52-to-47  in favor of a bill that reverses the FCC's recent order ending Net Neutrality.

The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.


FCC votes 3-2 to end Net Neutrality rules

The FCC voted 3-2 along partisan lines to adopt the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order" proposed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to rollback Obama-era Net Neutrality rules. Voting in favor of the order were Republicans Ajit Pai, who argued that measure will usher in a new era of investment for Internet infrastructure. Also voting in favor were Republicans Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr. Voting against the measure were Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC Chairman said that by returning to the classification of Internet services as an “information service”— removing the current Title II regulatory regime that gives the FCC say over the delivery of Internet content — the new order returns the industry to the status quo prior to 2015.

The vote proceeded despite an urgent request from the Attorney Generals of 18 states urging a delay to the vote due to a criminal investigation into possible fraudulent manipulation of the FCC's public comment process for this issue.  In a public letterto FCC Commissioners, the Attorney Generals said their ongoing review of the public comments process has revealed a large number of fake comment submissions using the names and identities of real people. The initial assessment is that there were over 1 million fake comments indicating a deliberate effort to skew the public comment process on an issue of national importance. The Attorney Generals are also requesting the help of the FCC in their investigation of "massive identity theft."

President Trump Picks Pai for FCC Chairman



President Donald J. Trump designated Ajit Pai as his choice to be Chair of the FCC. Ajit Varadaraj Pai was nominated for FCC Commissioner by President Obama in 2011. Pai took over the seat abandoned by Meredith Baker who left the FCC to take a job as a lobbyist for Comcast. Pai was previously a Partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP. Previously, Pai worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Communications...







FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

FCC votes 3-2 to end Net Neutrality rules

The FCC voted 3-2 along partisan lines to adopt the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order" proposed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to rollback Obama-era Net Neutrality rules. Voting in favor of the order were Republicans Ajit Pai, who argued that measure will usher in a new era of investment for Internet infrastructure. Also voting in favor were Republicans Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr. Voting against the measure were Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC Chairman said that by returning to the classification of Internet services as an “information service”— removing the current Title II regulatory regime that gives the FCC say over the delivery of Internet content — the new order returns the industry to the status quo prior to 2015.

The vote proceeded despite an urgent request from the Attorney Generals of 18 states urging a delay to the vote due to a criminal investigation into possible fraudulent manipulation of the FCC's public comment process for this issue.  In a public letter to FCC Commissioners, the Attorney Generals said their ongoing review of the public comments process has revealed a large number of fake comment submissions using the names and identities of real people. The initial assessment is that there were over 1 million fake comments indicating a deliberate effort to skew the public comment process on an issue of national importance. The Attorney Generals are also requesting the help of the FCC in their investigation of "massive identity theft."

President Trump Picks Pai for FCC Chairman



President Donald J. Trump designated Ajit Pai as his choice to be Chair of the FCC. Ajit Varadaraj Pai was nominated for FCC Commissioner by President Obama in 2011. Pai took over the seat abandoned by Meredith Baker who left the FCC to take a job as a lobbyist for Comcast. Pai was previously a Partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP. Previously, Pai worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Communications...







FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  

The FCC's  Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has ended its investi

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

FCC Chairman sets Net Neutrality rollback vote for December 14

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will bring his proposal to rollback Obama-era Net Neutrality rules to a vote at the commission's December 14th meeting.

Pai is calling his proposal the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order," which he believes will usher in a new era of investment for Internet infrastructure.

“For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world. But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake," stated Pai.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued the following response: “Today the FCC circulated its sweeping roll back of our net neutrality rules. Following actions earlier this year to erase consumer privacy protections, the Commission now wants to wipe out court-tested rules and a decade’s work in order to favor cable and telephone companies. This is ridiculous and offensive to the millions of Americans who use the Internet every day. Our Internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all. This proposal tears at the foundation of that openness."

FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC Votes 3-2 to Adopt Open Internet Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a new set of Open Internet rules proposed by Commissioner Wheeler and backed by the Obama Administration. All of the new rules, which are based on the FCC's authority under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, would apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, while leaving room for reasonable network management and its specific application to mobile and unlicensed WiFi networks.

Here are the key provisions and rules of the Open Internet Order as outlined by the FCC:

Bright Line Rules:  The first three rules ban practices that are known to harm the Open Internet.

  • No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.”   This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. It also prohibits practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.  

A Standard for Future Conduct:  the Order establishes that ISPs cannot “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” the ability of consumers to select, access, and use the lawful content, applications, services, or devices of their choosing; or of edge providers to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to consumers.  The FCC will have authority to address questionable practices on a case-by-case basis, and will provide guidance in the form of factors on how the Commission will apply the standard in practice.

Greater Transparency:  the Order requires that broadband providers disclose, in a
consistent format, promotional rates, fees and surcharges and data caps. Disclosures must also include packet loss as a measure of network performance, and provide notice of network management practices that can affect service.  To further consider the concerns of small ISPs, the Order adopts a temporary exemption from the transparency enhancements for fixed and mobile providers with 100,000 or fewer subscribers, and delegates authority to the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to determine whether to retain the exception and, if so, at what level.

Reasonable Network Management:    For the purposes of the rules, other than paid prioritization, an ISP may engage in reasonable network management. The FCC's standard takes account of the particular engineering attributes of the technology involved—whether it be fiber, DSL, cable, unlicensed Wi-Fi, mobile, or another network medium. However, the network practice must be primarily used for and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management—and not business—purpose.

Broad Protection
Some data services do not go over the public Internet, and therefore are not “broadband Internet access” services (VoIP from a cable system is an example, as is a dedicated heart-monitoring service). The Order ensures that these services do not undermine the effectiveness of the Open Internet rules. Moreover, all broadband providers’ transparency disclosures will continue to cover any offering of such non-Internet access data services—ensuring that the public and the Commission can keep a close eye on any tactics that could undermine the Open Internet rules.

Interconnection: the FCC address issue that may arise in the exchange of traffic between mass-market broadband providers and other networks and services. Under the authority provided by the Order, the Commission can hear complaints and take appropriate enforcement action if it determines the interconnection activities of ISPs are not just and reasonable.

Legal Authority: the order relies on multiple sources of authority including both Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  At the same time, the Order refrains – or forbears – from enforcing 27 provisions of Title II and over 700 associated regulations that are not relevant to modern broadband service.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated "There are three simple keys to our broadband future. Broadband networks must be fast. Broadband networks must be fair Broadband networks must be open. We know from the history of previous networks that both human nature and economic opportunism act to encourage network owners to become gatekeepers that prioritize their interests above the interests of their users. As the D.C. Circuit observed in the Verizon decision and as the public record affirms, broadband providers have both the economic incentive and the technological capability to abuse their gatekeeper position. Our challenge is to achieve two equally important goals: ensure incentives for private investment in broadband infrastructure so the U.S. has world-leading networks and ensure that those networks are fast, fair, and open for all Americans. The Open Internet Order achieves those goals, giving consumers, innovators, and entrepreneurs the protections they deserve, while providing certainty for broadband providers and the online marketplace."

Writing in dissent, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai stated "It shouldn’t be this way.  For twenty years, there’s been a bipartisan consensus in favor of a free and open Internet.  A Republican Congress and a Democratic President enshrined in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 the principle that the Internet should be a “vibrant and competitive free market . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”  And dating back to the Clinton Administration, every FCC Chairman—Republican and Democrat—has let the Internet grow free from utility-style regulation.  The results speak for themselves. But today, the FCC abandons those policies.  It reclassifies broadband Internet access service as a Title II telecommunications service.  It seizes unilateral authority to regulate Internet conduct, to direct where Internet service providers (ISPs) make their investments, and to determine what service plans will be available to the American public.  This is not only a radical departure from the bipartisan, market-oriented policies that have served us so well for the last two decades.  It is also an about-face from the proposals the FCC made just last May... In short, because this Order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist using legal authority the FCC doesn’t have, I dissent."

http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-strong-sustainable-rules-protect-open-internet


  • The text of the Open Internet Order has not yet been published.  The FCC said they hope to release it to the public shortly.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Global Net Neutrality Coalition Gets Formed

A new coalition of more than 35 groups from 19 countries has been formed to address Net Neutrality on a global basis.

The coalition agreed on and published the following definition of net neutrality:

"Net neutrality requires that the internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination."

Lead members of the group include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace, Public Knowledge and others.

http://www.thisisnetneutrality.org/

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bob Metcalfe on Innovation and the Net Neutrality Debate

Innovation in networking technologies is accelerating.  The debate on NetNeutrality is back in the public square.

Speaking at #GEN14 conference in Washington D.C., Bob Metcalfe, Professor, Electrical Engineering & Director of Innovation, shares his views on Net Neutrality.

Filmed at Metro Ethernet Forum's #GEN14 conference in Washington, D.C.

One Minute Video:  http://youtu.be/kJZKAiYVLXc


Thursday, April 24, 2014

FCC Chairman Comments on New Open Internet Rules

In response to published reports that of new rules that would limit or do away with the principles of Net Neutrality, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed that he is circulating a proposal but that it is not his intention to limit the openness of the Internet.  In a blog posting, Wheeler confirms that he is looking to have new enforceable rules in place by the end of the year.

Wheeler states that the key elements of his proposal are:

  • That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network;
  • That no legal content may be blocked; and
  • That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.

The actual proposal has not yet been published.  The FCC will consider Wheeler's proposal on May 15.  The commission has also established an email inbox for public comment on the matter.

Public comment to: openinternet@fcc.gov
http://www.fcc.gov/blog/setting-record-straight-fcc-s-open-internet-rules

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cogent Offers to Pay Capital Costs for Interexchange Upgrade

Cogent Communications has offered to pay the capital cost required to upgrade the exchange between its network and major telephone and cable companies (Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable). The offer would cover the capital cost of upgrading the interexchange to ensure adequate capacity to exchange Internet traffic, including streaming video traffic like Netflix.

The company hopes its offer will resolve the impasse caused by ISPs would have refused to upgrade traffic exchange capacity. Cogent is not offering to enter into paid peering arrangements with these or any other networks.

"Cogent believes the traditional Internet model in which each party bears its own capital costs to upgrade an interconnection should be the model for these relationships but the reality of the gatekeeper power exercised by these telephone and cable companies requires that Cogent accept these additional costs in order to provide the highest quality Internet service possible," said Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent.

http://www.cogentco.com/

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Comcast and Netflix Sign Interconnection Deal

Comcast and Netflix confirmed that they have signed an interconnection agreement that will provide Comcast's U.S. broadband customers with a high-quality Netflix video experience.
The companies have established a more direct connection between Netflix and Comcast, similar to other networks, that's already delivering an even better user experience to consumers, while also allowing for future growth in Netflix traffic.

Netflix receives no preferential network treatment under the multi-year agreement.  Other terms are not being disclosed.

http://www.netflix.com
http://www.comcast.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FCC Chairman Calls for New Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced plans to introduce new Net Neutrality rules saying his intent is to "preserved the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace."

The announcement comes a month after the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC overstepped its boundaries in setting Net Neutrality rules that compel broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic the same regardless of source.  In January, the court found that even though the FCC has general authority to regulate the Internet, it has previously chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers and the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from regulating them as such. The court therefore decided to vacate portions of the Open Internet Order because broadband providers do not have to meet common carrier obligations.

In a statement, Wheeler said the D.C. Circuit has also previously ruled that the FCC has the legal authority to issue enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.  He plans to propose new rules that cover the following:

Enforce and enhance the transparency rule, which requires that network operators disclose how they manage Internet traffic. This is more significant than many people may realize. An explicit purpose of the rule is to afford edge providers the technical information they need to create and maintain their
products and services as well as to assess the risks and benefits of embarking on new projects.

Fulfill the “no blocking” goal. The FCC will consider ways to ensure that edge providers are not unfairly blocked, explicitly or implicitly,from reaching consumers, as well as ensuring that consumers can continue to access any lawful content and services they choose.

Fulfill the goals of the non-discrimination rule.  The FCC should consider (1) setting an enforceable legal standard that provides guidance and predictability to edge providers, consumers, and broadband providers alike; (2) evaluating on a case-by-case basis whether that
 standard is met; and (3) identifying key behaviors by broadband providers that the Commission would view with particular skepticism.

Keep Title II authority on the table -- this gives the FCC the ability to reclassify Internet access service as a telecommunications service.

Forgo judicial review of the Verizon decision. In light of the Court’s finding that the Commission has authority to issue new rules under Section 706 and the ongoing availability of Title II, the Commission will not initiate any further judicial action in connection with the Verizon decision.

Solicit public comment. A new docket called “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” has been opened for public input.

Hold Internet Service Providers to their commitment. Major Internet service providers have indicated that they will continue to honor the safeguards articulated in the 2010 Open Internet Order.

Enhance competition -- the FCC will look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition.

http://www.fcc.gov/document/statement-fcc-chairman-tom-wheeler-fccs-open-internet-rules

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects FCC's Open Internet Rules

The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC overstepped its boundaries in setting Net Neutrality rules that compel broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic the same regardless of source.

The court found that even though the FCC has general authority to regulate the Internet, it has previously chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers and the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from regulating them as such. The court therefore decided to vacate portions of the Open Internet Order because broadband providers do not have to meet common carrier obligations.

The court concludes that "the requirements imposed by the Open Internet Order subject broadband
providers to common carrier treatment. If they do, then given the manner in which the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers, the regulations cannot stand."

The court did not address Verizon’s additional complaint that the Order violates the First Amendment and constitutes an uncompensated taking.

In response to the ruling, FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler issued the following statement:  “The D.C. Circuit has correctly held that ‘Section 706 . . . vests [the Commission] with affirmative authority to enact measures encouraging the deployment of broadband infrastructure’ and therefore may ‘promulgate rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic.’ I am committed to maintaining our networks as engines for economic growth, test beds for innovative services and products, and channels for all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment. We will consider all available options, including those for appeal, to ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression, and operate in the interest of all Americans.” 

http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/3AF8B4D938CDEEA685257C6000532062/$file/11-1355-1474943.pdf

In Decemcer 2010, the FCC approved new Open Internet rules governing the management of Internet traffic, with the three Democrats on the commission voting in favor of the measure and the two Republicans voting against.

Key elements of the Open Internet Order included:

Rule 1: Transparency -- A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.

Rule 2: No Blocking -- A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management. A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider's voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network 

Rule 3: No Unreasonable Discrimination -- A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer's broadband Internet access service. Reasonable network management shall not constitute unreasonable discrimination.

Significantly, "reasonable network management" was defined as follows: "A network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service. Legitimate network management purposes include: ensuring network security and integrity, including by addressing traffic that is harmful to the network; addressing traffic that is unwanted by users (including by premise operators), such as by providing services or capabilities consistent with a user's choices regarding parental controls or security capabilities; and by reducing or mitigating the effects of congestion on the network." The FCC rules go on to say that "Pay for Priority" delivery of packets on wireline broadband networks is likely to run afoul of the "no unreasonable discrimination" clause because it would represent a significant departure from current practices.

Mobile broadband was largely exempt from the "reasonable network management" clause, as the document acknowledges that this market is an earlier-stage platform than fixed broadband, and it is rapidly evolving. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

AT&T Faces FaceTime Net Neutrality Issue

AT&T has confirmed plans to make FaceTime available over its mobile broadband network only for customers who also subscribe to its Mobile Share data plan.


In response to criticism that this violates Net Neutrality rules because consumers should be able to use any app they choose on their data subscription, AT&T argues that Net Neutrality rules do not apply in this case because (1) FaceTime is preloaded on every iPhone on the AT&T network and (2) AT&T does not have a similar preloaded video chat app that competes with FaceTime. In a posting on its public policy blog, AT&T's Bob Quinn writes:

"The FCC's net neutrality rules do not regulate the availability to customers of applications that are preloaded on phones. Indeed, the rules do not require that providers make available any preloaded apps. Rather, they address whether customers are able to download apps that compete with our voice or video telephony services. AT&T does not restrict customers from downloading any such lawful applications, and there are several video chat apps available in the various app stores serving particular operating systems."

Earlier this week, Free Press, a public advocacy group working for Net Neutrality (wired and wireless), launched an online petition seeking to change or block AT&T policy on using Apple's FaceTime application over its wireless networks.

FaceTime on iPhones is currently limited to Wi-Fi connections. With the coming iOS 6.0 update, FaceTime is supposed to be enabled from use over cellular data connections as well.

Specifically, Free Press is concerned that AT&T will block the iPhone from using FaceTime over cellular connections unless customers subscribe to the carrier's new "Mobile Share" service plans.

Free Press argues that AT&T's plan to block mobile access to FaceTime for all other customers would violate the Federal Communications Commission�s Open Internet rules.

In a follow-up blog posting, Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:

"AT&T is inventing words that are not in the FCC's rules in a weak attempt to justify its blocking of FaceTime. The FCC's rules are crystal clear: AT&T is not permitted to block voice or video telephony applications that compete with its own services. There is simply nothing in the rules that distinguishes 'preloaded' applications from 'downloaded' applications. It is interesting to see AT&T try this line of defense, as it is tacitly admitting that it is both blocking FaceTime and that the app does in fact compete with its own offerings."

Free Press also runs the SavetheInternet.com coalition.http://attpublicpolicy.com/http://www.freepress.net

See also