Net Neutrality

FCC’s Wheeler Defends Opposition On M&A And Stricter Approach To Net Neutrality

September 9, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

FCC’s Chairman Thomas Wheeler gave a keynote speech at the Super Mobility Week Show in Las Vegas and had quite a bit to say on the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) within the wireless community as well as on Net Neutrality.  He defended their opposition to the earlier AT&T move to purchase T-Mobile and the more recent attempt by Sprint and T-Mobile to merge into one carrier.  He also spoke most vehemently about the importance of Net Neutrality and that stricter guidelines needed to be applied on wireless carriers. Speaking on competition, Wheeler said that by keeping four carriers, the customer has benefitted with new plans, lower pricing and new services – all spawned because the intense competition…I wish Verizon would get the word as they seem oblivious to the changes in service and pricing all around them.  He pointed out that he understands the scale of economics and accepts them – he just will not allow that scale to be achieved by consolidating any of the four major players.

Wheeler also offered an insight into implementing new Net Neutrality guidelines.  In their 2010 proposal – which the courts shot down some of the parts – the FCC treated wired and wireless networks as separate animals, and they left a lot of ‘wiggle’ room for wireless operators due to their need for spectrum and bandwidth, but now admits the agency may have to take a stricter approach in its next Net Neutrality proposal.  He believes that there are so many more smartphones and tablets than there were in 2010, that they cannot rely on old assumptions. Wheeler commented on the fact that they had sent out questionnaires to the major carriers for their insight – they are still accepting responses – he was disturbed by Verizon’s method of throttling unlimited data users, and he said:

“Recently, I sent letters to the four national wireless providers, asking them about their network management practices.  We are very concerned about the possibility that some customers are being singled out for disparate treatment even though they have paid for the capacity that is being throttled.  And we are equally concerned that customers may have been led to purchase devices relying on the promise of unlimited usage only to discover, after the device purchase, that they are subject to throttling.  I am hard pressed to understand how either practice, much less the two together, could be a reasonable way to manage a network.  Our Open Internet proceeding will look closely at both the question of what is ‘reasonable’ and the related subject of how network management practices can be transparent to consumers and edge providers.” Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know how you feel about Net Neutrality and the throttling of data during peak times…as always, we would love to hear from you.

FCC Tom Wheeler