Net neutrality gets support from a rather unexpected source. In a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), major wireless carrier Sprint has expressed support of the so-called "Title II" regulation, just about the only legal means in which the FCC can employ in order to make sure that Internet service providers can not favor specific websites over others.
This is without a doubt a very interesting development with regards to net neutrality. For some time now, the wireless industry has been generally against the use of the Title II regulation. But it appears that Sprint is going against the flow.
In its letter to the FCC, Sprint stated that it will keep on investing in data networks regardless of whether they are regulated by Title II, as long as the FCC lets carriers manage their wireless networks and differentiate the products and services they are offering to customers.
Sprint's endorsement of net neutrality is in sharp contrast to the positions of other major carriers like Verizon and AT&T. These carriers are convinced that the Title II regulation would discourage them from investing on upgrades to any Internet product or service they are offering. AT&T has been vocal in saying that it will not go into new investment commitments for high-speed Internet connections while the net neutrality rules are being finalized, and has even threatened to sue if ever the FCC resorts to the Title II regulation.
Sprint sent its letter to the FCC right before the agency is scheduled to conduct a meeting on February 26th. In that meeting, the FCC is supposed to vote on new rules and regulations for Internet use. This came to be after a major court decision was made one year ago in which an earlier version of the commission's net neutrality rules were vetoed.
In that earlier version, wireless data service providers (which include Sprint) were not covered by the net neutrality regulations. However, agency chairman Tom Wheeler has hinted otherwise that carriers will be included in the FCC's next set of rules.
With Sprint expressing its support for Title II, the momentum now shifts to the net neutrality camp. For some time, Title II was considered by many to be a long shot. But with Sprint's endorsement, net neutrality may get a needed boost. Alongside publicly expressed support from Netflix and certain celebrities (e.g. comedian John Oliver), consumers might be encouraged to be more open to the idea of net neutrality too.
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