“Hey, there’s a rule against blocking, professional basketball player Trenton Hassell!”

“No way, this block is wireless!”

Keith Allison

The Federal Communications Commission asked a lot of questions in yesterday’s net neutrality order. One of them is whether the commission should start treating fixed broadband and cellular Internet as one and the same for the purposes of no-blocking and anti-discrimination rules. But for now, the commission is continuing the course it’s taken previously by treating fixed and wireless Internet differently.
Like the 2010 Open Internet Order that was largely struck down by a federal appeals court ruling, yesterday’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) lays out rules for ISPs to follow on disclosing network practices, blocking applications and websites, and discriminating against Internet services. But cellular carriers such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile face less strict rules than fixed (e.g. wired) Internet providers, allowing them to block applications that don’t compete against their telephony services.

In the 2010 order, “[t]he transparency rule applies equally to both fixed and mobile broadband Internet access service,” the commission noted in the new NPRM. “The no-blocking rule applied a different standard to mobile broadband Internet access services, and mobile Internet access service was excluded from the unreasonable discrimination rule.”
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