The Future of the Internet is Mobile and Wireless -- But at What Cost to Consumers?

Share Article

Arizona telecom expert calls for open wireless access and a ‘nondiscriminatory Internet’

Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites and platforms equally.

The future of the Internet is mobile and should be open to both established firms and entrepreneurial start-ups. For economic competition, freedom of speech and press public policy considerations, the mobile Internet should not be impeded by either governmental regulations or oligopolistic telecommunications companies. However, access to the mobile Internet is now seriously threatened.

Smartcomm LLC, a Phoenix-based wireless communications consulting company, recently submitted its perspective to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on how best to achieve a competitive mobile Internet. The FCC currently is asking for comments on whether its net neutrality principles of nondiscrimination should apply to mobile Internet service. Plenty is at stake – some believe the very basic right of freedom of speech, press and access to information is in jeopardy.

At the core the debate is network neutrality: the idea that all Internet traffic and access is treated equally and without restriction. Noted Columbia Law School professor and net neutrality supporter, Tim Wu, puts it thusly: “Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites and platforms equally.”

The FCC and Wireless Broadband
For months, the FCC has been gathering comments from telecommunication providers and others on ideal practices to preserve an open and competitive Internet. The FCC also is currently seeking industry perspectives on the controversial topic of telecommunication providers giving faster digital service in exchange of higher fees, or tiered access pricing structures. In August, Verizon and Google proposed a scenario in which consumers would have an open “wired” Internet, but with significant exclusions for wireless broadband. This proposal would allow carriers to charge content companies more money for faster access and possibly block certain services from reaching customers at all.

The proposal by Google and Verizon drew both support and critics alike. Supporters, including large telecom companies like AT&T, support the move, but others such as Facebook balk at the proposed idea of fast lanes for speedier Web experiences – in exchange for higher costs. The argument against this idea is that those companies who pay the most, and have the fastest connections, could rule the Internet by undermining competition, controlling users and restricting access to certain content and applications.

Industry Growth and Innovation in Peril
The growth of mobile communications and smartphones has been, and will continue to be, on a rocket-like trajectory. Aggravating this growth are strained wireless networks that were not prepared for the rapid adaption of smartphone and iPad or e-tablet technology. Morgan Stanley, in its ground-breaking “Mobile Internet Report” predicts over the next three to four years, Internet traffic on mobile devices will increase by more than 50 times. The growth of the industry provides many entrepreneurial opportunities – many of which could be stifled if large telecommunication companies are allowed to hold an oligopoly on wireless access.

Smartcomm, in its comments to the FCC, notes it has “a keen interest in a robust and nondiscriminatory Internet.” Smartcomm adds in its comments: “Critically as Americans increasingly depend on wireless connections to access Internet content and applications for both business and entertainment, the Commission should reject any proposal to exempt wireless services from open Internet protections.”

Smartcomm CEO Carole Downs said she and her company are urging the FCC to find that wireless device access deserves the full panoply of net neutrality protections, or else risk leaving a majority of Americans without access to the open Internet. “This is a critical issue facing our industry,” Downs said. “Users want a single device and a single bill for all their mobile communication needs. Without roaming rights for their data service outside their home region, users will understandably migrate to those few providers that are able to offer a nationwide data network. Start-ups and innovative service providers would be left serving niche populations in relatively few markets.”

Currently, there are two ways to regulate broadband communications – an open access approach – which many countries around the world have adopted and a facilities-based competition approach akin to the way the U.S. regulates broadband. Smartcomm and Downs suggest open access encourages fair pricing and quality service and support an environment of nondiscrimination.

“The Internet should be neutral,” said Downs. “Net neutrality is a founding principle of the Internet and creates a level playing field – for both telecommunications providers as well as consumers. There is no issue in the communications industry more important than how we choose to regulate mobile broadband. This affects everyone.”

About Smartcomm LLC
Phoenix-based Smartcomm LLC provides consulting services and opportunities in the wireless communications industry to both individual and institutional investors. The company specializes in opportunities to acquire 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz band spectrum through the filing of license applications, participation in FCC public auctions or acquisitions in the secondary market. For more information, go to http://www.smartcommllc.com

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Greg Sexton
The Lavidge Company
480-998-2600 ext. 555
Email >
Visit website