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Wireless Net Neutrality

Mark Goldberg

To date, most of the discussion on net neutrality has dealt with the behaviour of conventional wireline ISPs. RCR Wireless News is carrying an opinion piece called "Paying for the bandwidth we consume" by Mark Desautels, VP — Wireless Internet Development for CTIA — the trade association for the US wireless industry.

His article follows up on reports of Comcast cable moving to discontinue internet access service to so-called "bandwidth hogs".

… how much greater are the implications of bandwidth hogs are for wireless networks, where bandwidth is scarcer than on the wireline side, particularly as wireline networks are upgraded from copper and coaxial cable to fiber optics.

His article seems to advocate the demise of the all-you-can-eat service plans for wireless and wireline providers alike. His argument seems to be that most people are subsidizing a few heavy users.

Yes. But what is your point? The same could be argued for all flat rate services - including my local sushi bar.

Much is made of the fact that consumers prefer flat-rate pricing because they know what it is going to cost each month, and that is understandable. But it also creates (potentially) huge subsidies between users. My question is: If consumers were aware of the amount of the subsidies they might be paying, would they be as opposed to paying for the bandwidth they actually use as is generally believed?

Consumers like the predictability of flat rate pricing, but should be given clarity about what are the boundaries.

If there are upper thresholds on consumption, then the service should not be sold as unlimited. Where are the tools or warnings that can let a user know that they are reaching the upper bounds? Do any users know what kind of activity will raise warning bells?

By Mark Goldberg, Telecommunications Consultant
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