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Smartcomm Calls on FCC to Maintain Net Neutrality

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November 12, 2010

Smartcomm Calls on FCC to Maintain Net Neutrality

By Narayan Bhat, TMCnet Contributor

Neither incumbent telecom firms nor the government must attempt to hinder the growth of mobile Internet because mobiles hold the key to the real success of Internet, warned phoenix-based wireless communications consulting firm, Smartcomm LLC.

Restricting mobile Internet may infringe the basic right of freedom of speech, press and access to information, noted the consulting firm in a letter dispatched to Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)), which is asking for comments on whether its net neutrality principles of nondiscrimination should apply to mobile Internet service.

At the core of the debate is network neutrality: the idea that all Internet traffic and access is treated equally and without restriction. "Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites and platforms equally," said Columbia Law School professor, Tim Wu, in a press release.

The FCC has started seeking industry perspectives on the controversial topic of telecommunication providers giving faster digital service in exchange of higher fees.

“In August, Verizon (News - Alert) and Google proposed a scenario in which consumers would have an open "wired" Internet, but with significant exclusions for wireless broadband. This proposal would allow carriers to charge content companies more money for faster access and possibly block certain services from reaching customers at all,” pointed out consulting firm in its letter.

The proposal by Google and Verizon drew both support and critics alike. Large telecom companies like AT&T (News - Alert), support the move, but others such as Facebook oppose the idea of speedier Web experiences in exchange for higher costs.

The point is those companies who pay the most, and have the fastest connections, could rule the Internet by undermining competition, controlling users and restricting access to certain content and applications.

“The growth of mobile communications and smartphones has been, and will continue to be, on a rocket-like trajectory. Aggravating this growth are strained wireless networks that were not prepared for the rapid adaption of smartphone and iPad or e-tablet technology,” argued the consulting firm.

In its "Mobile Internet Report", Morgan Stanley predicted that over the next three to four years Internet traffic on mobile devices will increase by more than 50 times. The growth of the industry provides many entrepreneurial opportunities, many of which could be stifled if large telecommunication companies are allowed to hold an oligopoly on wireless access.

Smartcomm, in its comments to the FCC, notes it has "a keen interest in a robust and nondiscriminatory Internet."

Smartcomm CEO, Carole Downs, said lack of net neutrality may leave a majority of Americans without access to the open Internet.

"The Internet should be neutral," said Downs. "Net neutrality (News - Alert) is a founding principle of the Internet and creates a level playing field - for both telecommunications providers as well as consumers. There is no issue in the communications industry more important than how we choose to regulate mobile broadband. This affects everyone."

Narayan Bhat is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Narayan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

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