April 7, 2015 — Net Neutrality has not faded from my steel trap of a mind, but most of what needs to be said (opinions) about it has been said. Now it is a matter of putting factual and solid data out there so readers know what is happening.
One of the arguments for NN is that it will help to stem flagrant violations, peripheral to the Internet, such as data throttling. In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, rejected AT&T’s argument that as a common carrier, similar to a utility company, and should be subject to regulation by the FCC, not the FTC. Oh, now that AT&T has declared that it is a common carrier, well, then they should be regulated as such. Score one for NN – I’ll make the connection in a few more sentences – bear with me.
To make a long story short, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen wrote, “The FTC maintains that AT&T has engaged in deceptive conduct because it does not disclose or fails to adequately disclose that ‘it imposes significant and material data speed restrictions on unlimited mobile data plan customers who use more than a fixed amount of data in a given billing cycle.’ In short, the gravamen of the FTC’s complaint is not AT&T’s practice of throttling per se, but AT&T’s deceptive conduct in failing to disclose its throttling to certain customers.”
Now, one might ask what that has to do with NN. Well, there is a similar issue with bandwidth manipulation, which is the reason for NN in the first place. As the judge noted, the words “deceptive conduct” ring loudly. If they do it with data, the chances are, I’d say, oh maybe 100 percent, that they will do it with the Internet as well. I rest my case.
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cell Magazine. Email Me