I want to start off this week to remind everyone that the FCC doesn’t just focus on Telecom Issues. They have a much broader mission. In this case, somebody petitioned the FCC to declare the name Washington Redskins offensive. What this would mean is that any body that used the term On Air could be liable for fines. On top of that, if a program airs a caller that says the term they can be fined as well. So remember as we talk about what the FCC should or shouldn’t do this is just one of the myriad of things that they are responsible for. The objectionable language thing is one of the most poorly defined ones.
Verizon announced that it would not be throttling their top 5% of LTE (aka 4G) Unlimited users. There are several forms of throttling and it is often used by carriers to provide less than optimal service for those they view as hogging the network. This raises the question about what you bought when you bought a data plan.
I think (and this is one of my opinions) that this will become one of the things that causes the Net Neutrality debate to move forward. Users want to use their service and they want it to become more mobile over time. The bandwidth limits we have heard discussed on Wireline seem to be around 250 GBytes. If you listen to the Wireless ads on TV, 10 GBytes is a typical number. The costs of the service to a consumer seems about the same. That puts Wireless Service at 25x the price of Wireline Service in one view. It also means that large data usages (HD Video) will be primarily Wireline not Wireless.
I want to point out explicitly something that may not be clear. One of the things that ISPs want to do is offer more services. They see the results of companies like Apple and Google and want to get the kind of margins that they get. This is why people are nervous about throttling and other limits on Net Neutrality. Can the ISP misuse its network to promote its own advanced services because they work better than competitors? To date, this has happened rarely and the FCC has been able to get rid of the problems when they happen.
This is separate than the “Fast Lane” discussion which would allow providers to purchase improved service. The concern is that this new service will become mandatory when introducing a new product or service. I am not actually worried about this. The reason is that I have not seen yet a deal that could be offered as being of value to the Content Provider. Depending on the different ISPs, they would end up with a massively complex set of offerings depending on who your provider was and if you were not at your home address.
It will be debated in the future for a long time. I would like to thank the FCC for creating content for me to write about. Have a great weekend!
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