The final round of public comments on the FCC’s Open Internet initiative are due today. With this step completed, the record is now ready for the FCC to make a decision on open Internet rules by January – if not later this year.The Computer & Communications Industry Association filed its comments today, saying that wireless broadband is too important not to be included in Internet safeguards and the concept of “specialized services” is not fully understood and remains too undefined to be exempted as well.The following statement can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black:“When these rules were first proposed, many Internet Access Providers insisted the challenges of meeting the demand for wireless Internet traffic were high due to rising capacity challenges and therefore wireless carriers should be exempt from any rules protecting open access. But we think that trend makes it even more critical to ensure wireless customers have some protections too. What’s encouraging is the FCC is also taking steps to free additional wireless spectrum.

“Be it convenience or necessity, mobile devices are the way many Americans are accessing the Internet. Applying the forthcoming Open Internet rules to wireless broadband is necessary not only for American consumers but also for Internet freedom globally.

“Mobile wireless devices are the primary means of Internet access for the populations of developing countries.  As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton remarked in her speech to the Internet Freedom conference in January of this year, the United States should lead by example in preserving citizens’ “freedom to connect” to the open Internet, regardless of the technology employed.

“Any Commission action that withholds protections for wireless Internet access could begin to relegate users of mobile devices to second-class status with less robust access to the Internet. That’s not something we want to see in this country — or any other nation.”

The following statement can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association Vice President Cathy Sloan:

“As the FCC considers how to best protect wireless access to an open Internet, we hope they will look at the challenges faced by smaller carriers offering consumers choice for mobile Internet access. We point out in our comments that ‘[s]maller carriers are already hamstrung by their dependence on their two largest competitors for wired transport and backhaul.

“While all Open Internet rules should apply, subject to “reasonable network management practices,” to the largest wireless carriers perhaps, smaller carriers may need only to be subject only to the obligation to fully disclose, in transparent fashion, their terms of service.  In any event, no blanket Open Internet exemption should be granted to the wireless industry.

“ ‘Specialized services’ are too little understood to warrant an exemption from the Open Internet rules. It is important to remember that the Commission did not itself take up the specialized services issue.  Rather, in the Open Internet NPRM, the Commission acknowledged the comments of Verizon and TIA who proposed unspecified ‘differentiated service offerings.’

From that innocuous proposal sprang the notion that “specialized services” should be exempted from the forthcoming Open Internet rules entirely.   But The FCC is not seeking to promote or regulate any new business models for network providers.”

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