AT&T is trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission that it can’t reclassify mobile broadband as a common carrier service.
AT&T’s FCC filing yesterday comes as commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is seemingly on the verge of proposing a reclassification of broadband service, perhaps including mobile broadband. Such a move would expose home Internet service and cellular data to common carrier rules under Title II of the Communications Act, which has been used for 80 years to govern the traditional telephone system.
AT&T argues that the 20-year-old Section 332 of the Communications Act bars the FCC from putting mobile data under Title II. Wheeler himself negotiated Section 332 on behalf of the wireless industry when he was head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), putting mobile voice but not data under Title II. Now he is considering using Title II to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or speeding up Web services in exchange for payment. But AT&T says he can’t use Title II to enforce net neutrality rules on wireless data providers.
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