AT&T: Hands Off Wireless, Managed 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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