Recent events have catapulted the question of Net Neutrality,which has been talked about for the past decade or so, directly into the public eye:
- A Federal Appeals Court reminded the Federal Communications Commission that it has no regulatory jurisdiction over Type I communications services (Internet);
- The chairman of the FCC proposed his ‘third way’ to change the regulation of Internet to a Type II service (the highly regulated telephone service market) complete with some or all of the telephone service’s USF tax, responsibilities of a carrier of last resort, regulator intrusion into all manner of Internet service operation and pricing. Regulated companies are shocked, disappointed and vocal. Cable company stock prices fall.
- Congressmen chime in with various trial balloons including legislatively forcing the FCC to require the regulations for Internet companies as it does network providers.
- CEOs of Verizon and Google develop and share a framework that basically regulates broadband wireline services, leaving wireless broadband free to develop. AT&T, stopping short of an endorsement of the framework agreed that wireless should be free from regulation since it is a competitive service and since spectrum is a limited and shared public resource; pricing is the ONLY mechanism to fairly allocate users and uses.
- Consumer group zealots protest Google’s participation in the framework.
This report reviews the players and issues and notes five unspoken (really rarely spoken about) issues that are influencing the pace and style of discussions.