Wireless trade group CTIA urged the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) not to push for net neutrality regulations for wireless networks affected by the broadband stimulus beyond rules the FCC already enforces.
The statement from the wireless industry's chief lobbying group came amid a torrent of comments sent to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday, the deadline for comments on how broadband grants should be structured. When Congress passed the $787 billion economic stimulus in February, it mandated that the NTIA and the FCC put in place certain net neutrality regulations. CTIA is arguing that those regulations should not apply to wireless networks.
The net neutrality rules "should be applied to broadband stimulus grantees within the context of its existing parameters, and not more broadly," CTIA said. "Wireless networks are inherently different than the networks for which the [net neutrality] policy statement was developed. The underlying network infrastructure, including spectrum, as well as the integration of the customer equipment, make wireless significantly different than other broadband networks."
It remains unclear to what extent major service providers such as Verizon and AT&T will participate in the broadband effort. However, when the FCC adopted a notice of inquiry seeking comment on the creation of a national broadband plan, it indicated that it was aware of concerns that the telecom and wireless industries have with how the grants will be distributed.
Verizon Communications urged the FCC to create rules for the broadband plan that would encourage private sector investment.
Interestingly, media reform group Free Press said in its comments that the NTIA and RUS should keep other priorities in mind. The group urged the agencies to set speed guidelines and not fund services that deliver speeds of less than 200 Kbps. Additionally, Free Press noted that the the stimulus package requires that the RUS give funding priority to projects that improve rural access and provide subscribers with more than one choice for a service provider.
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