Trend: New front in net neutrality battle

There is a new front opening in the network neutrality regulations war. Until now, debates over net neutrality concentrated mostly on wired networks, with particular attention to the last mile in residential broadband networks. In contrast to what was described as stifled competition in the wired last mile, the cellular phone market was hailed as proof of the consumer benefits--to say nothing of the pace of technological innovation--from unfettered competition.

Columbia law professor Tim Wu now argues that the appearance of free competition in the cellular market is but a chimera (in fact, he has been arguing this for awhile).

Specifically, Wu contends that an oligopoly consisting of the four major wireless carriers--Verizon, AT&T, Sprint-Nextel, and T-Mobile--is following anti-competitive practices similar to those of the old Ma Bell, practices that stifle innovation and punish consumers.

For more on the net neutrality debate:
- see Tim Wu's New America Foundation working paper
- Timothy Lee's Ars Technica discussion
- Jeffrey Silva's RCRWirelessNews report
- and Anne Broache's CNET report