When Verizon Wireless spent more than $4 billion on a chunk of prime 700MHz spectrum in 2008, it came at the additional price of facing rules that its rivals wouldn’t have to follow. Google entered the auction to make sure that it would hit the $4.6 billion reserve price that triggered rules preventing Verizon from blocking applications or devices.
But now, all carriers may soon face rules that are similar to what Verizon has followed. That’s because Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing to apply net neutrality rules equally to fixed and mobile broadband networks, in contrast to previous net neutrality rules that exempted wireless networks from key provisions. The proposal’s bans on blocking and throttling extend to legal content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices. An FCC spokesperson confirmed to Ars that the proposed net neutrality rules will have essentially the same effect as the requirements applied to Verizon’s 700MHz spectrum despite being worded differently.
The rules on Verizon’s 700MHz C Block spectrum, in the 746-757 and 776-787MHz bands, say that “Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice.” There are exceptions for complying with technical standards necessary to manage or protect the licensee’s network and for complying with other government rules.
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