Several smaller wireless network operators sent a letter to the FCC asking the commission not to classify broadband — at least not mobile broadband — as a telecommunications, or Title II, service and asking the commission not to apply the same Net Neutrality guidelines to both wireless and wired services.
Mobile broadband providers “face technical and operational challenges far more complex than our fixed counterparts do – especially regional operators, who often rely on smaller spectrum holdings that make flexibility in network management all the more important,” wrote the carriers. They added that “we need the flexibility to aggressively manage traffic to provide consumers the mobile broadband experience they expect.”
Carriers signing the letter included Bluegrass Cellular, Cellcom, Carolina West Wireless, King Street Wireless and Cavalier Wireless.
Smaller Wireless Carriers and Net Neutrality
The letter apparently was triggered by President Obama’s recent statement asking the FCC to classify broadband as a Title II service – a classification some people believe is necessary in order for the FCC to have the authority to impose Net Neutrality, also known as Open Internet, guidelines.
In his statement, President Obama also suggested stricter Net Neutrality guidelines than those that were in place until an appeals court struck them down early this year. Among other things, Obama recommended that the same Net Neutrality rules should apply to wireless and wireline services, which wasn’t true previously.
“Applying an outdated and backward-looking Title II common carriage regime to our services would . . . stifle innovation and investment and would do a disservice to rural America,” said the smaller wireless carriers. “Similarly, Commission adoption of expansive no-blocking rules or ‘commercially reasonable’ standards for mobile broadband would hinder smaller carriers’ ability to engage in practices designed to improve network performance or offer the alternative business models at the heart of competitive differentiation.”
The carriers also spoke out against extensive reporting requirements that could potentially be imposed. “Rules imposing granular transparency requirements would divert limited small carrier resources and raise our costs, would be impractical and, even worse, would limit our flexibility in delivering high-quality services,” they said.
The letter added, however, that the carriers support Internet openness. “Our businesses depend on our subscribers’ ability to access the applications, services and content of their choice, so we have every incentive to keep our customers happy by offering them the products and services they desire,” the letter said.