Comments to the FCC on the Regulatory Status of Managed Services and Mobile Broadband

October 12, 2010

ITIF has filed comments with the FCC on the agency’s “Further Inquiry into Two Under-Developed Issues in the Open Internet Proceeding.” The comments advise the FCC to adopt a broadly permissive approach to “Specialized Services” in order to allow a market for high-bandwidth, communication-oriented applications such as Telepresence to develop on the Consensus Internet. ITIF also advises that price scrutiny is more appropriate than blanket technical restrictions against such services. The Internet is currently a content-oriented system that is beginning to transition toward a system that supports a mix of content- and communication-oriented uses, and technical changes will be necessary to effect the transition.

ITIF also cautions the FCC against adopting overly-prescriptive regulations on cellular mobile broadband networks. Cellular networks are predominately communication-oriented today, but with the advent of 3G and 4G technology, they are transitioning to a mixed use model as well. Until LTE is fully deployed, mixed use cellular will be challenging, so the appropriate policy for the time being emphasizes disclosure over prejudgment of the technology’s most appropriate means of management.

The Internet is currently undergoing its most exciting transition since it was opened to the general public in the mid-90s. The potential for a pervasive, mixed use Internet to effectuate economic progress and bring about improved quality of life is considerable, and regulators have an important role in ensuring that rapid progress continues. This role is best served by encouraging the development of high-functioning, efficient networks with transparent terms of use and freedom from discriminatory pricing.