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Opponents Face Off about Mobile Internet on Cusp of FCC Decision

Photo: WaD

There is a firestorm surrounding the Federal Communications Commission’s expected vote tomorrow in a historic decision around net neutrality – the idea of making Internet use unbiased by the corporations who serve as Internet providers.

The issue is finally coming to a head: President Barack Obama has long made this net neutrality part of his campaign platform, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has also been a vocal advocate.

However, to many this week’s proposal falls drastically short, especially when it comes to mobile Internet. The proposed rules would limit only hard-wired Internet providers from blocking access or slowing down speed to access some websites – which alone is rife with controversy. Even without including mobile technology, some have cried foul that this kind of regulation might deter investments.

Mobile regulations, where people increasingly surf the web, are nonexistent in the rules.

In an editorial piece, Sen. Al Franken called the proposed regulations “worse than nothing” because they would allow mobile providers to charge for content that was not their own or could even cut off content based on political purposes.

Not wasting any time waiting, some corporations are already planning their new cost structures: Wired has published a corporate presentation from two wireless providers showing how they intend to charge extra for content like NetFlix, Facebook and Skype. This kind of extra charge, in a world without net neutrality, would come on top of fees customers already pay for a monthly download limit.

Tomorrow, consumers may know a bit more about the future of their broadband bills – but the ongoing public debate is likely far from over.

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