Wednesday, July 28, 2010

AT&T and network neutrality (and wireless TOS)

I noticed some news stories and blog entries about AT&T’s claim that network neutrality doesn’t work for wireless. Back around April 1, 2009 there had been a spat about AT&T’s TOS for wireless that forbad downloading movies or video by P2P or some other forms of customer initiation (maybe Netlfix or Logo or even YouTube rentals) unless authorized specifically by AT&T.

Rob Topolsk had written this explanation on the “Public Knowledge” blog here

and NewTeeVee had a story “AT&T Changes TOS to limit mobile video”, link here.

Of course, generally speaking, national wireless plans don’t provide the same robust high volume transfer capacity that landbased broadband cable or FIOS can. Just look at the typical rates for a national Verizon Wireless plan for your Blackberry, if you want to use it when your cable broadband is down or when you’re on the road. It works, but it is slower, and not very suitable for movies. To me, this says, that a really effective broadband policy needs to bring land-based cable to all areas, or very robust wireless or satellite. (Verizon now says it can serve 92% of the country with its national wireless subscription.)

AT&T issued a statement in September 2009 on Net Neutrality, and talks about “common carriage” and says that ignoring it is an “intellectual contradiction” and that content providers and facilitators must play by the same rules as trunk telecommunications providers. The line is fuzzy indeed

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