Unlike certain legacy monopoly Internet service providers, both wired and wireless, Sprint has not opposed FCC open Internet access rules over the past year. It understands that basic industry frameworks of nondiscrimination and universal interconnection are what make service innovation and competition possible even where government protected monopoly and duopoly once reigned. And so today it made that position official in Washington.
The only thing Sprint has consistently asked is that the FCC recognize the greater challenges around legitimate management of mobile networks, especially smaller ones, as opposed to landline networks. And, if we want competition to thrive, smaller carriers must be able to differentiate themselves from their two much larger vertically integrated competitors.
The mobile phone industry started out as a duopoly by FCC design. Compared to landline telephone monopoly, that seemed progressive at first. But the duopoly model proved insufficient to support real innovation and competition that would benefit consumers. So Congress made way for new market entry. Competition and innovation flourished, under Title II common carrier regulation with appropriate freedom (aka “forbearance”) from tariffing and other unnecessary burdensome requirements.
Sprint in fact, made major investments in mobile data services before the FCC declared mobile broadband to be a deregulated “information service.”
Google also recently tipped it’s hat to basic telecommunications network rules of the road for competition when it wrote to the FCC in support of Title II access to local infrastructure for competing providers of Internet access connectivity, like itself.
The open Internet rules currently under consideration by the FCC are all about maintaining the environment for competition and free expression in the online world. Online start-ups like Foursquare and other small businesses need open two-way universal interconnection and connectivity without permission from their local Internet access provider or anyone else’s. Consumers, students and other citizens will benefit from the same open Internet access as well.