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Net neutrality won't apply fully to wireless, Steve Wozniak cries to high heavens

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Net neutrality won't apply fully to wireless, Steve Wozniak cries to high heavens
It takes a talent to craft a negative for the consumer decision, and spin it as if it is democracy at work. That's precisely what the Federal Communications Commission did yesterday, when voting on the so-called "net neutrality rules".

Network neutrality, in a nutshell, advocates "no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication". Like, for example, your ISP throttling down P2P traffic, citing illegal torrent downloads, although you signed up for certain download speeds, or Verizon allowing Skype, but rerouting the calls over its voice network.

Although yesterday's decision was mainly focused on wired, such as the one from your cable broadband provider, the FCC spilled the beans on wireless too, and it is not looking pretty. Citing the advent of open platforms like Android, and the fact that the FCC imposed on carriers an openness requirement, when they auctioned the 700MHz C-Block spectrum (which Verizon uses for its LTE network), the FCC argues that wireless can make do with softer net neutrality rules. Last time we checked, the "openness" of Android didn't prevent Verizon from banning Google Search and swapping it with Bing on a number of Android phones.

The wording of the rules mean that potentially carriers won't be allowed to block content, or cripple safe apps, but they can charge you more is you are using YouTube, for example, or uploading albums on Facebook, compared to text email and chat, for example, and there is no shortage of tools to do that, even over encrypted access. The carriers can do it under the pretenses of "reasonable network management", provided they prove the access to data-hogging sites like YouTube is affecting the quality of their networks, hence other users.

These ambiguities caused one of the Silicon Valley icons, Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak, to send an open letter to the FCC:

"Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP's should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don't destruct them...

Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use, the personal computer revolution would have been delayed by a decade or more... every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed...

I don't want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today's Internet."

Still, the rules barely passed with 3:2 votes, there is a possibility thatthe decisions will be challenged in court, and, to top it off, the FCC might not even have the mandate to impose them, so for now it is business as usual for the telcos.

via HuffingtonPost & Moconews

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