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Wireless Net Neutrality: Dead?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 06, 2010

The effort to let any Web service run over wireless networks may be dead.

On April 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Federal Communications Commission couldn’t tell the U.S.’s largest cable company, Comcast, not to interfere with certain types of traffic. This in effect reverses the FCC’s 2008 ruling, which allowed Web services like Web-calling provider Skype to run over most wired networks, and to grow and prosper faster.

Ever since, Skype and other services have lobbied the FCC to impose similar, so-called net neutrality rules on wireless networks of carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. The agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, has said he’d like to extend net neutrality rules onto wireless networks.

Now, however, Genachowski’s ability to go ahead with the reforms may be severely crippled. While the FCC could appeal the court’s decision, that could be a drawn-out process. And it’s likely to halt any new net neutrality rulemaking and proceedings. That’s bad news for Skype, as well as a myriad of other Web services that depend on being able to run over various carriers’ networks to grow. These companies will have to work with the carriers to gain access to their networks via business negotiations – as Skype has already done with Verizon Wireless.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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