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Cantwell, Inslee: Net Neutrality Rules Should Apply To Wireless

Senator Maria Cantwell and Rep. Jay Inslee, both
Washington state Democrats, wrote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
Friday to urge him to take strong network neutrality action.

Both supported his proposal last October to expand
and codify FCC network neutrality guidelines, and his subsequent proposal to
reclassify broadband transmissions to buttress that decision after a court cast
doubt on its authority to regulate Internet access.

The pair pushed for applying the same rules to
wired and wireless broadband. Currently, the chairman's compromise proposal,
which does not rely on reclassification, only applies transparency and
no-blocking principles to wireless, arguing that given its different network
characteristics it needs more flexibility.

"There needs to be one set of rules that
applies to all broadband Internet access, both fixed and mobile. Consumers do
not distinguish between the Internet access they receive on their mobile
device, and the access they receive on their desktop," the legislators
argue. "The specifics of what constitutes reasonable network management,
and not the rules themselves should be used to account for the different
architectures and technical constraints of broadband Internet platforms."

The FCC's rules provide for reasonable network
management, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. But they argue that will
not be sufficient. "If strong net neutrality rules for mobile Internet
access are not put in place today, through the final order, it will become too
late to take action once business models become entrenched. We have seen this
pattern time and time again."

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has indicated
he would like to see the rules applied to both. He and the other commissioners
are currently working on edits and input on a draft order, which is
scheduled to get a Dec. 21 vote.

And not to put too much pressure on the chairman,
they add: "Regardless of any other actions the Commission takes under your
leadership, the final order on the open Internet proceeding is what you will be
remembered for."

CTIA: The Wireless Association has signaled that it may sue thecommission if it tries to add any more of the regulations beyond transparency
and no-blocking, which they reluctantly agreed to as part of the compromise