As we've pointed out in the past, the wireless providers, led by lobbying group CTIA, are desperate
not to have the FCC include wireless broadband in whatever new net neutrality/open internet rules it releases. However, Tom Wheeler has been hinting
that he's had enough of wireless providers screwing over the American public. The head of CTIA, Meredith Attwell Baker (famous for jumping from an FCC commissioner job to head Comcast lobbyist
just months after she approved Comcast's merger with NBC Universal), has written an absolutely hilarious opinion piece at Wireless Week insisting that everyone loves
their wireless providers, so
there's no need whatsoever to apply any net neutrality rules
Of course, her definition of everybody loving their mobile operator differs from, well, basically everyone not paid by the mobile operators to be their public spokesperson.
From our innovation economy to the free exchange of ideas, the United States is a shining example to the world of the promise of an open Internet. It is widely embraced by policymakers, innovators and consumers alike, particularly with respect to mobile broadband. We remain the global leader in mobile innovation and have embraced openness across the ecosystem. So much so, that not a single formal complaint against wireless providers has been made to the Federal Communications Commission since it first adopted open Internet rules in 2010.
Oh, really? First of all, that last sentence is so ridiculous that it deserves a special callout for just how blatantly dishonest
it is. You know why there's been no formal complaint to the FCC against wireless providers under its 2010 open internet rules? Because those rules never applied to wireless in the first place
. This was one of the major loophole/problems with the 2010 rules: they explicitly carved out wireless providers. So the reason
why there haven't been any formal complaints against wireless providers is because you couldn't make a formal complaint
under those rules. To use that as the example of "nothing to see, move along now" is ridiculous -- and totally dishonest.
Furthermore, the idea that the US is a "shining example" is laughable. Our mobile broadband offerings are a joke. The mobile carriers have run into many, many problems, often around really nasty anti-consumer practices. As we've discussed just this week
, AT&T got fined
for lying to subscribers by selling them an "unlimited" plan and then throttling it down to useless, and Verizon Wireless agreed to pay $64 million
for regularly overbilling customers. Sure, there were no complaints under the open internet rules that didn't even apply to the wireless providers, but there were tons
of complaints about anti-consumer behavior.
And that's not even mentioning AT&T getting fined (earlier this month) for cramming
charges put on consumers' bills (in which the FCC made use of its Title II authority, which could be the prime tool for net neutrality rules). Or their efforts to block out
alternate payment solutions in favor of their own
Softcard initiative. Or the efforts to block certain devices
from their network.
The US mobile broadband network is not, in any way, a shining beacon of openness and freedom as Attwell Baker represents. It's the opposite.
Subjecting wireless broadband networks to rules that dictate how wired broadband networks are designed and operated would be a mistake. Instead, wireless network managers need maximum flexibility to keep networks expanding and clear. And wireless companies need the ability to differentiate their products and services without having to ask permission. This is our best guarantee that we maintain an open and innovative Internet—one in which mobile broadband retains its virtually limitless capacity to transform our lives.
Ha! What she's proposing is that while wireless providers may not have to ask for permission, everyone else will have to do so
because what CTIA wants is for the mobile operators to be able to discriminate and block and set up tollbooths. If we have to choose between the big wireless providers having to "ask for permission" from the FCC to engage in anti-consumer behavior... or every app maker, or online service provider having to beg for permission to work on a mobile network, it seems like the former is much more likely to lead to an "open and innovative internet."
In commenting on last month’s vote for Scottish independence, President Obama turned to an old maxim that retains a modern ring of truth: ‘If it ain’t broke; don’t fix it.’ When it comes to maintaining the open Internet and all the momentum surrounding mobile broadband, we couldn't agree more.
It seems like the mobile ecosystem is very, very broken, considering just how much the mobile operators have been able to get away with. But, we're supposed to ignore all of that just because no one complained under a set of rules that they couldn't complain under? How stupid does CTIA think everyone is?