updated 03:45 pm EDT, Wed September 28, 2011
Free Press petitions FCC for tougher neutrality
Public advocacy group Free Press put forward a formal petition for review (below) of the FCC's net neutrality rules before they take effect November 20. The group said the rules were too light on the mobile Internet as they only included a basic no-block rule and transparency on monitoring, not a guarantee that all legal traffic should be treated fairly. With cellular gaining ground, the argument that wireless was too new didn't work.
The complaint aimed to show that the FCC had changed its mind halfway through formulating net neutrality terms and had been too near-term in its thinking, according to Policy Director Matt Wood.
"Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access," he said. "The disparity that the FCC's rules create is unjust and unjustified. And it's especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online."
While Verizon and MetroPCS have vocally objected to any regulation of fair access whatsoever, others have said the final FCC deal is uncomfortably close to that of the Google-Verizon proposal. The FCC had initially claimed that all the Internet was the same but appeared to change its mind even after publicly chastising Google and Verizon.
Carriers have insisted that the dependence on wireless spectrum makes their 3G and 4G Internet connections inherently more limited than wired access and that they have to throttle or otherwise reduce certain kinds of traffic to keep speed going. Some have countered that they remain insincere, however, and have pointed to carriers selectively blocking apps and MetroPCS' decision to block access to Netflix unless users paid for the most expensive tier of access, even though the service is officially unlimited.