FCC Tells Us Their Neutrality Rules Prevent Pay-Per App
But ISPs Will Simply Argue They're Pricing Creatively...
Last December we noted
that deep packet inspection (DPI) hardware vendors were trying to sell wireless carriers on the idea of billing consumers not only for more consumption (which they already do) but an additional surcharge if they wanted to use various apps and services, from Skype to Facebook. Last week we noted
that Dutch wireless ISP KPN appears set to make this pricing vision a reality, charging extra fees if users want access to specific apps, like mobile IM or VoIP clients. It's a clear violation of net neutrality, in that it involves using carrier power to constrict consumer access to competing services. KPN however, insists it's simply creative pricing.
We noted at the time that given the FCC had largely exempted wireless networks here in the States from their new neutrality rules, there isn't much preventing this kind of "creative" pricing from arriving here in the States. Responding to our report, the FCC wrote us to insist they believe that their rules do, in fact, protect consumers from this kind of pricing.
"Our rules do prohibit this kind of behavior," the FCC's Mark Wigfield tells Broadband Reports. "See paragraph 99, which pertains to mobile, and prohbits blocking applications that compete with the providers primary service offering -- voice and video telephony -- and you can make a strong case that text also competes with voice and so blocking SMS applications would be barred," he says. The pertinent bit from the FCC's order
A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.
"Also, paragraph 67 prohibts charging a fee in order to block," says Wigfield:
67. Some concerns have been expressed that broadband providers may seek to charge edge providers simply for delivering traffic to or carrying traffic from the broadband provider’s end-user customers. To the extent that a content, application, or service provider could avoid being blocked only by paying a fee, charging such a fee would not be permissible under these rules.
Except carriers eager to differentiate tiers by blocking specific apps will argue they're not really blocking apps -- they're simply engaged in "creative" pricing tailored to specific consumer needs. In fact that's essentially what upstart wireless carrier MetroPCS did with their recent LTE pricing, which involves charging a higher rate
if the user wants access to specific apps like YouTube or the full Internet. Despite consumer advocates noting this appeared to run contrary to the idea of open devices and platforms
, the FCC didn't so much as make a peep concerning MetroPCS's new pricing.
As such -- assuming the FCC's rules withstand legal challenge -- it seems like it wouldn't be hard for an ISP to discriminate by app, just so long as they do so cleverly.
MetroPCS pkgs were feature phone & smartphone I don't think they discriminated based on provider of the service but on what features the phones supported. A lower fee feature phone and a full featured smartphone with complete access to the internet. The lower cost plan and phone went thru a proxy server and did not have full internet access. The full featured smartphone needed full internet access to run the apps.
And that is why the FCC didn't stop them. You could call that "their being clever", but it was based on something other than who the provider of the service was.
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YEARS AGO Cellular providers charged extra and nobody bitched. They took the money from your voice plan. That can be done again. Who says that you deserve access to the apps and Internet on your phone? The cell phone companies will just revert to their own ways of charging your voice plan. Kill the unlimited voice and be done with it. Texting was extra also at 25cents+ per message or 150 messages for $15. Remember people bitch too much and get what you want- LIMITED.
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Re: Why is this tolerated?
said by hottboiinnc:That's not an honest assessment. They all advertise wonderful Internet access. From social networks, to streaming Internet media, to search, to web browsing, and yes, even to tethering your PC to the Internet. It's at the heart of how they sell these smart devices. They ceased being a phone company when they migrated to the web. They provide web access, therefor, they are ISPs.
its tolerated due to the Cell phone companies ARE NOT Internet Service providers. No where does it state they are but ......
If you run data on a Verizon phone, you are running on Verizon's data network, the SAME network and backbone your PC uses. The same for AT&T. How can you say these companies are not ISPs?
said by hottboiinnc:It's hardly an option. It's at the very core of what they are peddling. In fact, it's getting close to a time where you can't get a phone without network access, and a DATA plan.
Just because they give you the option to access the internet .....
said by hottboiinnc:Who said anything about free? As far as "unlimited access" is concerned, that's what's at the core of net neutrality. YES, you should be free to use it as you please, without any restrictions at all, within the law. Why not? What business is it if theirs where I go and what I do with the device I paid for and with the bandwidth I buy?
THEIR network does not give you the right to use it totally free and unlimited.
said by hottboiinnc:Yes, and they are very well compensated for the use of that network. BTW, it IS a PUBLIC RESOURCE. Unlike cable and copper last-mile (for that's all we are talking about here; last-mile access to the same Internet) the airwaves are in the public domain, they belong to all of us, and licensees have a responsibility to serve the PUBLIC which owns them.
They paid to build that network and also paid for their right to use the spectrum that is NOT a pubic resource ...
You would be horrified if a car company charged you by the passenger right? Or charged you if you changed the tires. It's your car. As long as you pay for the gas and tolls, you can do whatever you want with it within the law. The same is true for your PC, whether it's big or small, whether it connects via copper, or wireless.
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Re: Materially Adverse Change lol. prepaid? you do realize who owns the prepaid companies and who controls the MVNOs right? The actual network owners control and own the network still so you're at their same mercy. They're NOT required to share that network nor are they required to make it affordable. Nothing is stopping them from shutting down EVERY MVNO/Reseller that does prepaid. Look at Sprint-Nextel they're buying their MVNO's up so they can keep the $$$$ all for themselves and not lease out their network. VZW will be the next one to start that and you can kiss prepaid good bye at what it is now.
And go up and read my post about how they are NOT required to give you Internet on your phone; and how it was NEVER an option before. And how everything was charged at high prices to your bill or came out of your bucket of minutes. Want that again? Keep up what you want and you shall receive just that. Remember what happened to Comcast? People (especially on here) wanted a hard cap- Comcast gave one and people didn't like and and then CC told the public TOO BAD take it or kiss off. People took it and lived with it. And the same will happen with this.