Democratic win could herald wireless net neutrality

The Bush administration has been skeptical of net neutrality, unlike President-elect Barack Obama–and supporters of more regulation hope to use his support to target wireless as well, CNET reports. If you thought federal regulators were upset at Comcast’s throttling of peer-to-peer web traffic, wait until they start scrutinizing what wireless providers are doing. Comcast’s offense was merely to slow or abort some BitTorrent transfers. AT&T Wireless goes much further and flatly bans all "peer-to-peer file sharing" and "downloading movies." Verizon Wireless’ terms of service also single out P2P applications. If those restrictions applied to wired internet connections, there would have been FCC proceedings, congressional hearings, and plenty of outrage, real or feigned. Wireless providers’ network management policies, on the other hand, have mostly been left alone–a situation that consumer advocacy groups are hoping that an Obama administration will help them remedy. "That regulatory disparity is going to become a problem when we go forward, and it ought to be addressed right now," Ben Scott, policy director of media advocacy group Free Press, said at the Wireless Communications Association’s conference Nov. 6. Scott, one of Washington, D.C.’s most vocal proponents of net neutrality and broadband regulation, said he thinks it’s time to take aim at wireless providers. "They’re not different," he said. "They’re all running on IP. They’re all providing access to the internet. The only question … is what is reasonable network management."

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