Barbara van Schewick Calls on FCC to Open Public Comments on Verizon/Android Tethering

by admin on Jul.01, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Barbara’s blog, Net Architecture)

The questions raised by the complaint are too important to be decided without public participation: The C Block of the 700 MHz band is currently the only spectrum that is subject to mobile network neutrality rules.

June 11, 2011

According to recent news reports, Verizon Wireless has asked Google to disable tethering applications in Google’s mobile application store, the Android Market. Tethering applications allow users to use laptops or other devices over their mobile Internet connection by attaching them to their smart phones.

In early June, Free Press filed a complaint with the FCC alleging that this behavior violates the openness conditions that govern the use of the part of the 700 MHz spectrum over which Verizon Wireless’s LTE network operates. The FCC seems to have designated the proceeding as a restricted proceeding under its ex parte rules, which means that the public will not be invited to comment on the issues raised by Free Press’s complaint.

Today, I asked the FCC to open up the proceeding for public comment. (The full text of the letter is here (pdf) and copied [on Barbara's blog].) The questions raised by the complaint are too important to be decided without public participation: The C Block of the 700 MHz band is currently the only spectrum that is subject to mobile network neutrality rules.[1] Knowing that there is at least some part of the mobile spectrum that is protected by basic network neutrality principles is important for users, innovators and investors. Whether the openness conditions indeed afford protection depends, however, on how they are interpreted and enforced. Thus, the proceeding has important implications for many businesses, innovators and users in the Internet ecosystem, so they should have a chance to have their voice heard, too. In addition, as I explain in the letter, the proceeding raises important issues regarding openness in mobile networks in general.  Here is the text of the letter.

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