Net neutrality debate goes wireless
The debate over Net Neutrality, which got so heated over the summer then faded as Washington turned to the mid-term elections, is back in the news. (Net Neutrality proponents would like to see rules prohibiting phone and cable companies from limiting or prioritizing Internet traffic on their networks.) Direct Democracy has a post (third item) on Net Neutrality legislation being introduced in states such as Maryland and Maine.
And earlier this month, Net Neutrality pin-up Tim Wu issued a new paper on the idea of wireless net neutrality, which the Washington Post sums up nicely.
Proponents of wireless net neutrality wonder why wireless service and devices have to be sold together in the U.S. With wired networks, you can buy any old phone from Radioshack (RSH) or Target (TGT) and plug it into your wall jack. Why can't you do the same with your wireless device?
Part of the reason has to do with networks - the U.S. operates on two different wireless standards, so a phone that works with T-Mobile service simply isn't compatible with the Verizon networks. But mostly it has to do with the wireless operators' desire to control what rides on their networks. This isn't entirely unreasonable: If your Motorola (MOT), Nokia or Blackberry phone breaks, chances are you don't call the device manufacturer for customer service; you call the wireless carrier. On the other hand, as one Nokia (NOK) executive is fond of saying: "You wouldn't buy your computer from Verizon (VZ) or Comcast (CMCSK). Why would you buy your wireless phone from the phone company?"
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