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FCC cites Android as reason for softened neutrality rules

updated 06:35 pm EST, Tue December 21, 2010

FCC says Android makes lightened rules OK

The FCC in voting for its net neutrality rules cited Android as a reason for softening the conditions for wireless neutrality. The official statement from chairman Julius Genachowski (PDF) argued that relatively open mobile operating systems meant there was less need to prevent "unreasonable discrimination" as there was on the desktop. The requirement for supporting open devices on Verizon's 4G service played a role.

"We recognize that there have been meaningful recent moves toward openness, including the introduction of open operating systems like Android," he said. "In addition, we anticipate soon seeing the effects on the market of the openness conditions we imposed on mobile providers that operate on upper 700 MHz C-Block spectrum, which includes Verizon Wireless, one of the largest mobile wireless carriers in the U.S."

The connection is tenuous as Verizon has already exploited the openness of Android to ban certain features and block apps, often in direct contravention of the no-blocking rule instituted today. It prevents Skype from using legitimate VoIP calls on 3G and, on some phones, blocks Google search widgets from running or even being installed in favor of Bing. AT&T in turn has been banning non-Market apps from its Android phones, possibly violating FCC terms that would allow any legal, safe app to run on a given network.

Concerns have been raised that the policies and phrasing were the direct result of a Google and Verizon joint proposal that would have kept wireless free of neutrality rules. Although the vote ultimately applied regulations and has led Verizon to vocally oppose the rules, the mention of Google and Verizon as specific examples implies at least a slight effect.

Google has argued that it made a deal with Verizon to guarantee that at least some net neutrality would get a legal basis in the US. Its exemption of wireless in its proposal has nonetheless been sometimes cited as an example of an overdependence on Verizon. Unofficial estimates have suggested that as much as 80 percent of Verizon smartphones use Android and thus that Google now can't afford to anger its partner lest it lose significant market share. [via Engadget]

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Steven

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Dec 2010


    Open or not...

    How open the OS of your device is will not matter. They're still going to charge you more to visit SiteA than to visit SiteB when this is all over with... and they will also charge SiteA more than SiteB for allowing you to visit them in the first place!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thank You

    Little Green Robot. We owe you one!
    Even the iFans owe you one!

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Me thinks...

    Google is spending more money on lobbying than Android engineers.

  1. shawnde

    Joined: Dec 1969


    FCC is owned ...

    by large corporations, like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Google, etc. ..... this is nothing new. All this BS about Net Neutrality and blah blah is just 'lip service' to keep the consumers in the delusional state that their government is actually looking out for their interest ... which is not the case at all. The government is ONLY looking out for Big Business, and it's been like that since the 1950's, and it's never going to change.

    Here in Canada, it's the identical system. The CRTC, is practically RUN by Bell, Rogers and other telcos. They write the rules that would govern their behaviour. It's the same in the finance sector; the banks themselves OWN the ministers and parliament, so the banks write mortgage lending, leverage and risk rules. It's crazy and ridiculous, but it's true.

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