UPDATE: Today (Tuesday) the FCC voted to pass the net neutrality regulations mentioned toward the bottom of this post. The rules include the provisions that wireless and traditional Internet be treated separately, and generally made everyone unhappy. However, expect a fight in Congress to either overturn the rules or strip the FCC of its authority in this sphere.
Behind closed doors, wireless providers are talking about a future that’s a net neutrality advocate’s worst nightmare.
Last week the tech companies Allot Communications and Openet, which provide products for large carriers like AT&T and Verizon, demonstrated new products in a web seminar, some details of which have leaked out. The PowerPoint slides detail a plan to monitor your online behavior and charge you for your use of certain applications. For example:
In the seventh slide of the … PowerPoint, a Vodafone user would be charged two cents per MB for using Facebook, three euros a month to use Skype and $0.50 monthly for a speed-limited version of YouTube. But traffic to Vodafone’s services would be free, allowing the mobile carrier to create video services that could undercut NetFlix on price. [Wired]
There may never have been this many people this excited about white space.
Today the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission agreed to the rules that will allow unlicensed use of the empty space between TV channels (available now that TV has gone totally digital), and opens the door to super wi-fi networks whose reach could be measured in miles.
Unlike current Wi-Fi airwaves, whose reach can be measured in feet, the spectrum that would carry Super Wi-Fi would be able to travel for several miles because of that lower frequency. Through brick walls, even—something your Linksys really struggles with. [Gizmodo]
Yesterday, Google and Verizon posted their joint policy proposal for internet regulation. The proposal suggests a legislative framework for Congress regarding our current “open internet.” An open internet means all bits are treated the same: internet service providers process every internet content provider’s information at the same speed–YouTube or Hulu, Wikipedia or Britannica. Though the Google Verizon plan is titled “a joint policy proposal for an open Internet,” it leaves some internet neutrality champions concerned; the plan does not address wireless service regulation and allows exceptions to the open internet standard for special broadband services.
We’ll break down the possible implications of this move, but first, a briefing on the basics.
What is an example of an alternative to our open internet? Internet content providers could pay more to get their information to you more quickly–like paying for a plane ticket instead of taking the bus. Since October of 2009, Verizon and Google have issued a shared statement of principles, submitted a joint filing to the FCC, and published a joint op-ed on net neutrality. But after talks between the two companies, a New York Times article and others asked if Google–a self-proclaimed proponent of net neutrality–might pay Verizon to get information to users more quickly, thus ending our net neutral system.
In April, a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC–which can regulate interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable–cannot regulate the way internet service providers conduct business. So instead the FCC, which has said it’s in favor of the current open internet, invited major internet players to a series of meetings to devise an agreement. But after weeks of private meetings, talks seem to be breaking down:
The F.C.C. in recent weeks has been trying to negotiate its own agreement in a series of private meetings with a group of big Internet service and content companies, including Google and Verizon, to ensure net neutrality. But the agency canceled a session scheduled for Thursday after the reports of the Google-Verizon talks. [An FCC spokesman] said in a statement that the effort “has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet, one that drives innovation, investment, free speech and consumer choice.” [New York Times]