CTIA to Senate: We Will Accept Net Neutrality Rules

CTIA - The Wireless Association plans to assure senators it will support open Internet rules' extension to wireless, but only if they reflect the differences between wired and wireless broadband

"We do not ask that wireless be exempt from any new laws, only that any new requirements reflect our industry, our technology, and our inherent differences," CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker said in prepared testimony for a Jan. 21 hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee.

Recognizing that difference, the FCC in 2010 did not apply most of the net neutrality rules to wireless, but signaled it would monitor the market and could revisit that. Mobile wireless has exploded, the President is pushing deployment and adoption, and the FCC has signaled it is indeed revisiting that decision and could well expand the new rules to include wireless.

The hearing is on Republican-backed network neutrality draft legislation. Baker called the draft an "excellent start" and a "reasonable path" toward preserving an open Internet with enforceable requirements.

"Properly crafted legislation will guarantee the protections the President has called for and would allow mobile broadband providers to continue to invest billions, create jobs, and bring innovative products to all Americans," she says.

The President has called for the reclassification of ISPs under some Title II common carrier regs. CTIA opposes that move, and the bill would block the FCC from imposing Title II, instead giving it explicit authority under a new section to prevent blocking, discriminating against, and prioritizing content.

She says letting Congress act and set ground rules is a better approach than an FCC reclassification, that FCC chair Tom Wheeler has signaled could be in the offing when the commission is scheduled to vote on new rules Feb. 26.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.