CTIA's Baker To FCC: Don't Hamstring Disruptive Competitors

Wireless under Wired Net Neutrality May Jeopardize Industry

CTIA president Meredith Baker says an open Internet is nonnegotiable, but that doesn't mean applying the same Open Internet rules to wired and wireless broadband. That comes after the FCC has been signaling it is considering that move.

According to the text of a speech prepared for a mobile summit in Atlanta today (Sept. 22), Baker said wireless was different any any attempt to regulate it the same as wired, which the FCC is at least considering as part of its revamp of the Open Internet order, could "greatly inhibit, if not jeopardize, the United States’ global leadership."

"We hear a lot about the need for platform parity. Treating wireless the same as wired broadband. Our objective should be to preserve an Open Internet, not artificially impose the same set of rules on all platforms," she says. "Forcing all platforms under a single set of rules was rejected in 2010, and should be rejected again now."

She says those who push for that model fail to provide a definition of reasonable network management broad enough to cover her industry.

Baker was on the commission in 2010 when the FCC voted not to extend the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules to wireless given the different network management challenges of its cellular architecture.

Baker pointed to the network neutrality comments of Sprint and T-Mobile that they would not be the disruptive forces they want to be--and the FCC has signaled it wants them to be--under stricter network neutrality rules, as well as the comments of Paypal founder Peter Thiel on network neutrality that "the cure will be worse than the disease."

"I will never understand why the government would intervene now, and even contemplate hamstringing disruptive competitors or reducing the competitive energy around delivering the best network experience," she said.

In 2010, the FCC applied only the network transparency and no-blocking rules to wireless (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/cantwell-introduces-bil...) and said it would monitor for discrimination issues and, if necessary, revisit the decision not to apply the anti-discrimination (actually anti-unreasonable discrimination) rules.

The mobile wireless industry is clearly feeling the heat from net neutrality fans pushing the FCC to extend anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules to mobile wireless.

In a letter to house members inlcuding Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, CTIA: The Wireless Association president Meredith Attwell Baker urged him to urge the FCC to retain the 2010 open Internet order's "mobile specific" approach to regs given the "unique engineering, competitive and legal conditions" of 4G LTE, rather than a one-size-fits both wired and wireless approach.