NCTA: Wireless Should Not Get Net Neutrality Immunity

The National Cable &
Telecommunications Association (NCTA) says that while there is no
justification for regulating broadband Internet access service,
if the FCC chooses to do so, it must apply
those regs to wireless as well as wired broadband, but should not apply
them to managed services.

"Neither wireline nor
wireless broadband services should be subject to codified 'net
neutrality' rules," NCTA said in reply comments to the FCC Thursday. "[Nonetheless,] wireless broadband, like all other broadband
offerings, is an information service, and as such is no more or less
within the FCC's authority to impose net neutrality requirements as any
other broadband information service."

The organization added, "Given that
none of the adverse, much less apocalyptic, effects predicted by the
proponents of regulation have come to pass, there is no reason to adopt
any rules at this time -and, especially, no
reason to adopt rules that apply broadly to largely hypothetical
services other than broadband Internet access service that may be
offered by Internet service providers over their broadband facilities.
The latest round of comments provides further evidence
that the adoption of such rules is overwhelmingly likely to do more
harm than good."

NCTA said
there is nothing unique about wireless that justifies exemption, and
that if the FCC does want to give providers flexibility in managing
their networks, it should provide that flexibility to wired as well. It
pointed out that there is a wireless component to wired broadband in
homes with wireless routers.

"The overlap between wired and wireless networks will only increase as carriers deploy femtocells, which are small base stations that provide enhanced wireless coverage of the customer's premises and plug into the customer's wired broadband connection," the cable trade group said.

NCTA also
took aim at the wireless carriers' argument that the FCC lacks authority
to regulate them. While conceding what it said are the "legal
in the FCC's effort to regulate any broadband industry, wireless can
claim no unique legal immunity.

The FCC has
proposed codifying and expanding its network neutrality guidelines, but
the BitTorrent ruling has delayed any action while the commission
decides how to clarify its broadband oversight
authority. Thursday was the deadline for reply comments in its further
request for information on whether to apply those rules, if it can
codify them, to wireless broadband and managed services.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said that wireless will be an increasingly important player in broadband.

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.