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Proposed Cell Phone Rules Could Violate Net Neutrality
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December 20, 2010

Proposed Cell Phone Rules Could Violate Net Neutrality

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Internet access through cell phones and tablets could soon see drastic changes if a joint proposal from contractors Allot (News - Alert) communications and Openet is adopted, according to an Eletronista report. This proposal could eventually lead to charging by the online service a potentially severe violation of net neutrality principles.

If adopted, this newly developed system would allow carriers to charge different rates depending upon the nature of the traffic. At the same time, they can exempt their own services. Carriers could also throttle or eliminate access to services such as Facebook or YouTube to try and discourage users from accessing them too often.

The proposal would also make video delivery more expensive as it would lead to the use of outside video services. It would also mean charging the content provider through split billing. In this format, content providers would pay their usual bandwidth costs to the Internet provider if a customer tries a movie, but declines to view the rest. The cellular provider would still get a cut of the purchase price if viewers elect to access the full video.

This approach would also allow carriers to force a reversion to a pre-smartphone model for mobile data. In this case, access to the wider Internet is discouraged while carrier-owned Web and media services artificially become the least expensive choices. When carriers make it difficult or impractical to use services that threaten their established businesses or steer users back to landline TV services, net neutrality violations occur.

As the proposal is still just a proposal, it still reflects an increasing desire among carriers to end net neutrality and widen their profit margins. France Telecoms’ CEO is moving in this direction, asking for site-specific fees for the Internet and wants to charge phone manufacturers based on the amount of data a given person uses on a provider such as Orange (News - Alert).

For their part, U.S. telecom companies have been adamant to exempt themselves from having to treat different sites equally. In fact, Verizon made a pact with Google that they would press for very light regulation on cellular use that many assume had the concept of site-specific metering as a priority.

The FCC (News - Alert) is planning to review proposals introduced by its chairman and will vote on net neutrality rules on Tuesday that could impose tougher conditions on wired access, while also satisfying some cellular carriers by eliminating the mention of anti-favoritism rules for wireless services.

Regardless of how the FCC votes, chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) said the FCC has reserved the right to step in and apply more restrictions if it became clear carriers were abusing the lack of regulations.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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