FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski tackled net neutrality just a few months after he took office. His plan: Codify the commission's four net neutrality principles, and add nondiscrimination and transparency rules. Once reply comments are filed in March, it will likely take a few months for the FCC to draft its final rules, but they will be passed sometime this year. However, the FCC likely will add large exceptions for wireless carriers.
Wireless carriers have long argued that their networks are different from wireline broadband networks, and should not be subjected to net neutrality regulations. However, when it approved its draft order in October, the FCC noted that wireless networks have different network architectures, market structures, patterns of consumer usage and regulatory history than wired networks. We expect these concerns to be included in the final rules, and we anticipate carriers will be given broad leeway in terms of what constitutes "reasonable network management." We think wireless carriers will be bound by the new rules, but the regulations will be written in such a way that carriers' business models (and, more importantly, their networks) are not crippled.