AT&T: Hands Off Wireless and Managed Services - Broadcasting & Cable

AT&T: Hands Off Wireless and Managed Services

Says FCC should determine broadband access service definition that "unambiguously" excludes specialized services
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AT&T has
advised the FCC that it should concentrate on freeing up spectrum for
broadband, allowing network engineers to manage their networks, and
confine its network openness regs to the C block wireless
spectrum already auctioned under those conditions.

That came in
reply comments to the FCC Thursday, the deadline for replies to initial
comments on whether the FCC should apply net neutrality regs to
wireless broadband and specialized "managed" services.

AT&T
said specialized services are not "remotely harmful," do not threaten an
open Internet and that the FCC should come up with a definition of
broadband Internet access service that "unambiguously"
excludes specialized services.

It points
out that such services are key to the telemedicine and distance-learning
goals central to the FCC's National Broadband Plan, "provided that the
Commission does not obstruct the development
of these innovative and often revolutionary specialized services with
unnecessary regulation."

As to
applying network neutrality rules to wireless, the company calls it
"nonsensical to encumber wireless broadband providers with "neutrality"
obligations." AT&T agues that the market is new, but
already "fiercely competitive."

Besides, it
says, it would be illegal to intervene in the mobile marketplace. "The
Commission has not identified any valid source of statutory
authority-'ancillary' or otherwise-to impose general "net
neutrality" rules on any form of broadband Internet access, but any
claim of such authority would be particularly untenable as applied to
wireless broadband services.

The
"ancillary" was a reference to the BiotTorrent decision, in which a
court rejected the FCC's assertion that it could take action against
Comcast's blocking of peer-to-peer file uploads using ancillary
authority.

The FCC is
currently deciding how to clarify that authority as a step toward
codifying and expanding its network neutrality rules. That is the
proceeding the FCC was seeking more info on in asking
for comments on applying the rules to wireless and managed services.

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