Report: FCC to propose net neutrality rules for wireless

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is going to propose new net neutrality rules for wired and wireless networks in a speech on Monday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed people familiar with the proposal. If such rules go into effect, it would be a major blow to wireless carriers that have argued that the mobile Web is inherently different from the wired one, and requirements to support data-intensive applications could harm the quality of their networks.

In reaction to the news, wireless trade association CTIA reiterated its longstanding position against net neutrality in wireless. "We are waiting to read the chairman's proposal, but as we've said before, we are concerned about the unintended consequences that net neutrality regulation would have on investments from the very industry that's helping to drive the U.S. economy," said Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA. "We believe that this kind of regulation is unnecessary in the competitive wireless space as it would prevent carriers from managing their networks--such as curtailing viruses and other harmful content- to the benefit of their consumers."

According to the WSJ report, the FCC's plan will take into account the bandwidth limitations of carriers, although it's unclear exactly how that provision would be implemented.

Net neutrality has been a long-standing issue among wired Internet providers, and it recently migrated into the wireless world. Skype has argued for unfettered access to wireless networks via its mobile VoIP service, for instance, and Sling Media's SlingPlayer Mobile video application for the iPhone can transmit only over WiFi and not AT&T Mobility's cellular network.

An FCC representative was not immediately available to comment on the report. Genachowski is expected to appear at an event Monday in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Brookings Institution think tank. Josh Silverman, the CEO of Skype; David Young, Verizon Communications' vice president of federal regulatory affairs; and Ben Scott, the policy director of consumer advocacy group Free Press, are also expected to appear.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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