FCC Head Net Neutrality Remarks Spark Reaction

The Federal Communications Commission Chair's suggestion that consumer protections applying to wired networks be extended to wireless networks elicits swift pushback.
AT&T also noted that some spectrum purchased in last year's 700 MHz bandwidth auction didn't contain any encumbrances, but the proposed net neutrality approach appears ready to reverse the auction specifics. The carrier said: "For the FCC to now place such requirements on that spectrum so soon after the auction creates the impression of a 'bait and switch', and could raise questions about the fairness and integrity of the auction process itself."

It went on to cite the "incredible bandwidth strains" that are facing U.S. wireless networks. AT&T is somewhat of a victim of its own success with its < a href=" ">exclusive arrangement to market Apple's iPhone; the iPhone has been so successful and its users download so much data that AT&T's network is often pressed to keep up.

Verizon, which has a robust CDMA network and is well on its way to deploying super-robust LTE network technology, was more muted in its response to Genachowski's outline. Even so, a Verizon Wireless executive was quoted as saying it feared new FCC rules could limit consumer choices and "affect content providers, application developers, device manufacturers and network builders."

Sprint Nextel appeared to endorse Genachowski's proposals, at least initially. In a statement, the third largest U.S. wireless carrier said: "We look forward to working with the Chairman and the rest of the Commissioners as they work to establish these new policies in a way that meets the expectations of consumers, recognizes the limits of wireless technology and preserves the obligations of carriers to operate networks in a reasonable and responsible manner."

Sprint noted that it is already deploying an open 4G network. It is also the majority owner of Clearwire, which is rolling out a nationwide WiMax network.

What's clear about the initial net neutrality skirmishing is that it's likely to be followed by a long and contentious period featuring multiple issues before final rules can be drawn.

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