President Obama's push for Net Neutrality leaves room for carrier control of wireless networks

President Obama's push for Net Neutrality leaves room for carrier control of wireless networks
President Obama made big headlines today by formally asking the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, effectively making it a public utility, and ensuring Net Neutrality protections for consumers. The plan would mean no internet "fast lanes", no paid prioritization, no blocking, no throttling, and more transparency from ISPs. However, the plan does leave room for wireless networks to be separate from this.

For much of the president's statement on what he would like to see, he refers to cable and phone companies, and consumer broadband. However, President Obama does specifically note that he thinks "the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks." And, it's that last bit that is slightly troubling in terms of Net Neutrality, because the internet is the internet, regardless of how it is delivered to users, and leaving the door open on wireless is a slippery slope. 

Of course, it should be made clear that this is nothing more than a recommendation from President Obama, who fully admits in his statement that the FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone." The recommendation carries weight, but that's all it is - a recommendation. We'll have to wait and see what the FCC will do. 

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25 Comments

1. tury694

Posts: 167; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

Why do people even need net neutrality? What a joke just another way to be controlled by the government. I'll keep enjoying my data on AT&T mobile with my Lumia 1520 and at home with Comcast. No restrictions here.

2. av911 unregistered

You mention why we need it, yet you mentioned Comcast? Do you even know what net neutrality is? Comcast is one of the reason we need net neutrality.

3. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

People need it because of AT&T throttling unlimited data users in an effort to force them onto new tiered data plans, and Comcast throttling BitTorrent as it has in the past, or throttling Netflix until it gets paid more money (a fee that startup video services can't afford, which then stifles competition). Net neutrality is important because otherwise, it is very conceivable that you'll eventually have to pay AT&T or Comcast extra to access YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and other big data usage content.

4. asrr62

Posts: 56; Member since: Sep 14, 2011

your so stupid, you shouldnt be allowed on the internet. we need net nutrality cause of TIME WARNAR, VERIZON, ATT&T, COMCAST, SONY, DISNEY NETFLIX YOUTUBE, and ETC! ETC! grow up.

5. asrr62

Posts: 56; Member since: Sep 14, 2011

you probly like butt rape when it happens to you. lol. troll, likes microsoft. lol.

11. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

You're about as bright as your Vista avatar...

14. xq10xa

Posts: 810; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

Yeah...this guy don't know wtf he's talking about.

6. freemarketeer

Posts: 28; Member since: Jun 05, 2010

Those who claim that "Net Neutrality" is the solution obviously do not understand the problem. The problem until this point has not been a lack of government regulation but rather the result of too much of it. The issue comes down fundamentally to competition in the market place, which the government has effectively destroyed through its whole licensing process. Rather than having a broad range of competitive choices presented to the customer, we get only what the government determines we can have (like 2-3 providers for a given area if you are lucky). Treating the existing carriers as utilities will only worsen the problem (again, how many choices for your electricity do you have?) If you really want to stick it to companies like Comcast or Time Warner, argue to remove the monopoly privilege that the government has granted them through exclusive licenses. We never complain about there being a lack of choice or quality with TV's, cell phones or restaurants because the markets for these generally work unimpeded. You don't like the food at one place, you go to another. Can't afford the top end Sony 4K TV? You pickup a comparable house brand.

12. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

Dead-on, sir. Dead-on...

13. a_merryman

Posts: 749; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

Exactly! Because with natural monopolies there is just so much competition in the free market. You know? It doesn't cost billions of dollars to build out the infrastructure of an ISP or electricity or sewage. So the barrier of entry into these industries is extremely low! If it weren't for the big bad government regulating there would be thousands of companies building out the multi-billion dollar infrastructure needed to just be able to compete (you know, because the incumbents definitely wont lower their prices while they do that in order to keep the new entrant from being able to pay back all the money they borrow while building the infrastructure and thus leaving the consumers with one option again who will raise the price back up to insane levels.) Not even getting into the fact that the ISPs were deregulated a few years ago and have been consolidating and trying to push data caps on consumers or making Netflix pay more for their customers to be able to access Netflix's services at respectable levels. Nope deregulation in an industry that by its very nature leads to monopolies is an excellent idea. We totally didn't learn our lesson with railroads or telephones or electricity, nope...we want to go back to those good ol' nickle and dime-ing robber baron days!

16. rsturges

Posts: 12; Member since: Oct 22, 2014

Yeah, basically this. There's a substantial difference between products and utilities, and you have to recognize that.

19. freemarketeer

Posts: 28; Member since: Jun 05, 2010

No, that is a distinction without a difference. Water, sewer, electricity are services, the same as your maid, car wash or accountant. The demand or importance to the individual has no bearing. In free markets, the more important or demanded the good or service, the more players you will see in the market to service said demand. Another way to think about it- if I were to have a choice to service a need that is higher on a consumer's priority list vs. one that is lower, I would probably serve the one that is higher since it has less of a chance of being removed from their budget.

17. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

There is no such thing as natural monopolies. Cable operators got exclusive deals from cities all over the country. Everything was done to benefit corporations or governments and screw the consumer by limiting choice, be it utilities, water or phone services. The actual robber barons are in city councils, gubernatorial office and the Oval Office.

20. freemarketeer

Posts: 28; Member since: Jun 05, 2010

First off, can you provide an example of a "natural monopoly"? Second, it would have taken a lot of capital for a startup to compete against Blackberry 10 years ago- size doesn't matter if the other guy is offering something you can't or won't. Also, you obviously have no clue how capital markets work. And so what if the incumbents lower prices in response- the consumer benefits either way. (Of course you are completely ignoring the fact that since all of the ISP's are publicly traded companies that have to answer to their shareholders, lowering prices without lowering costs leads to reduced profitability and therefore become less attractive to investors leading to a lower stock price). Also, please explain this "deregulation" that you speak of? The last time I checked, the FCC is still there and special licenses and permissions are still required to enter the market. I'm not even sure I can respond to how utterly informed your last two comments are. You are obviously relying on the same history you learned in high school. If you actually read up on those things you might discover that the "robber-barons" managed to drastically REDUCE the cost of said services (try reading about James J. Hill for example) thereby improving the standard of living of everyone.

7. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Can someone explains what this means to an idiot like me....

8. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

basically everything on the internet is treated equal and ISPs such as Comcast cannot tinker with data coming in and out of your house. We need it, because ISPs are already throttling certain things, such as Netflix.

9. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

It is good the president has taken a stance on it and that will pressure them more. The bad thing is everyone seems to hate Obama so they will just do the opposite of what he says.

10. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Who does Barry think he is, the king of America? Expect a myriad of fees to be added to your ISP bill. This is nothing but a money grab by a state bankrupt morally and financially.

15. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And Netflix and other companies that pay for better throughput speeds won't increase their fees? Everyone bemoans the FCC but in many cases if it wasn't for them, these wireless companies would be raping us six ways to Sunday. It's also funny you single out Barry for being the king of America after the previous president. Patriot act anyone?

18. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Because when Netflix increases its fees, I'm free to seek an alternative. If it's an FCC fee, hell will freeze over before a fee is rescinded. BTW, look at other countries or even the profit margins of the major mobile carriers in this website: thanks to the FCC, they are already raping Americans. PS: presidents have been thinking of themselves as monarchs for at least a century.

21. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And because one ISP raises their rates every single one of them will as well? Look at T-Mobile, theirs have actually gone down to compete with the bigger providers. So even there there will be alternatives. And in case you don't remember, it was the FCC that included the stipulations when they sold Verizon and AT&T the spectrum for LTE that made them offer unlocked phones, and they were also the ones that took Verizon and AT&T to task on the issue of throttling. And by limiting how much spectrum blocks the larger carriers can buy, it gives smaller carriers a chance to compete, in the hopes that more providers on equal ground will translate to lower prices. If you want to point the finger at who's let our prices for internet service go sky high, look at Congress. The other countries you're speaking of with lower profit margins have tighter controls over spectrum than we do. They mandated a standard for charging ports and connectors, and set the standard for cellular technology across Europe. How many countries besides the US have to different kinds of cellular technology competing against each other? That happened because those countries got together and agreed on a standard. In the US the government let the carriers handle it amongst themselves, and after 30 years the carriers finally agreed to do the same. The model for better mobile access you're touting is because of more government control, not less. And while many presidents have thought they were monarchs, when the patriot act went through, it gave the pres the power to back up that feeling. There has been no piece of legislation in our country's history that gave our government such sweeping power. It's about one step shy of martial law.

22. mike2959

Posts: 697; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

I understand the average age here is 18 years old, but if anyone thinks that because you have more choices equals better services at a cheaper price you all are insane. Anybody here of deregulation before? The US did it to the telephone industry, did it to natural gas companies, did it to the electric companies. The average consumer pays more today for each of these utility's adjusted for inflation today than ever. We switch cell companies more often than electric company's! I've been to Europe, and many part's of the world, do you all think that France, Italy, Greece, or any country has more choices? Let me tell you seriously nobody is even close. 4 major wireless carriers, 3 larger regional carrier's, and to be honest I couldn't even guess how many MVNO's. People we got it good, stop Bitching because you can't stream Breaking Bad 24/7.

23. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

I remember the ante-deregulation times with the utmost dread. Just an example: I paid several dimes per minute for long distance and several dollars per minute for international calls. Now, I pay no extra charge for long distance and just a pretty penny for international calls. Shall I remind you of the price of the bakelite telephones or the PanAm international tickets? In Europe, where there is more standardization of the spectrum and technology, the typical price for an equivalent service is half or up to a third of what the American carriers charge. Go inform yourself before babbling out.

24. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Do you hear yourself? Over there they have more government control over their utilities. They were the ones who implemented standardization of technologies, where here in a capitalism driven country like the US, we let the carriers dictate what happened with cellular standards. Because of that we've had CDMA, GSM, PCS, etc. Only now after 30 years are they finally trying to have a unified standard for cellular technology. But even then, the carriers are still doing everything to lock devices to their networks. Global phones can work in some cases, but many times they don't have the full functionality of the models made for that carrier. We want the government to stay out of business, but if they were to actually be totally hands off it would be far worse. We'd probably have double or triple the number of different technologies for communication that we have had. Consumer protection would be more of a joke than it already is. In many cases, the only thing keeping these providers in any kind of line is government intervention. Do you think that in Europe that things like requiring 2 year warranty and support would happen without the government mandating it. Most providers would be happy to drop warranties and free support after the customer walked out the door. In some cases, the government needs to back off, but in some cases they also need to step it up.

25. mike2959

Posts: 697; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

Point made with long distance, however that was a result of cellular companies entering the marketplace that tore down the walls of long distance per minute usage. By the way that per minute type of billing still exist today, even with VOID company's such as Vonage. You're supposed to have a choice of electric company, do you? Has it lowered your bill? Did Best Buy raise their prices because Circuit City closed 10 years ago? Don't believe the hype.

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