How should Net Neutrality affect the mobile Internet?


The Big Deal yesterday was the FCC’s announcement of two additional proposals to its enforcement of Net Neutrality: non-discrimination (ISPs can’t play favorites when it comes to network traffic), and transparent management (ISPs should be upfront with their network management practices, like blocking BitTorrent during peak hours). That’s all well and good—I don’t think you’ll find anyone across the Crunch Network who doesn’t support Net Neutrality—but this is thought to apply to “traditional” ISPs: Comcast, Time Warner, etc. The question becomes, then, how should Net Neutrality affect the wireless Internet? Should AT&T be subjected to the same regulations that Time Warner is vis-à-vis the iPhone? What about Sprint and the Palm Pre (and Pixi!)?

Go ahead and ask these companies, and they’ll tell you: thanks, but no thanks. They argue that the wireless Internet is inherently different than the “regular” Internet because of the much more limited bandwidth they’re dealing with, and the way in which that bandwidth is used. Host some sort of tech convention in Anytown, USA, and you’ll quickly find that Anytown’s mobile Internet has exploded. (See SXSW this past March. AT&T was pretty much unusable for several days in Austin, TX.)

Besides, if you [the public] want the mobile Internet to keep expanding at such a rapid rate, then the last thing you want is regulation. (That’s the VZWs of the country talking.)

Of course, to call the United States’ mobile networks “advanced” would be a bold-faced lie. Go to Japan or Europe and tell me that the shitty service you pay for here in America is “advanced.” “Can you hear me now?” WHY IS THIS SILL AN ISSUE?

Also remember: this is the same wireless industry that charges 20 cents per text message, when there’s absolutely no reason why that should be the case. So tread lightly when dealing with these guys and their complaints vis-à-vis dirty, dirty regulation.