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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

How Sprint Supports Net Neutrality


An open Internet is something that is important to me as a freelance journalist, and apparently it is important to one of the major telecommunications companies, too: While AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have made things difficult for supporters of net neutrality, Sprint is taking a different tack.

Sprint Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye spoke to Reuters: “It's one of those topics that is highly charged, highly politicized, and we took a step back and said it works in the interest of our customers, our consumers and the industry. And we frankly found some of the arguments (of our competitors) to be less than compelling,” Bye said. “Our competitors are going to continue to invest so they are representing a situation that won't play out."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes to more strictly regulate Internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The proposal would reclassify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service under Title II. The new rules would apply to mobile broadband which accounts for 55 percent of Internet traffic. Certain practices would be banned, including blocking access to legal content, paid prioritization and throttling (impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications or services). The FCC is expected to vote on the proposed rules during a meeting on Feb. 26.

Sprint wrote a letter to the FCC last month that stated it would support the FCC’s proposal. “Sprint does not believe that a light touch application of Title II, including appropriate forbearance, would harm the continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband services,” the letter said.

Net neutrality: The Internet's guiding principle

The idea of an open Internet where everyone is treated on a level playing field is known as net neutrality. Save the Internet calls net neutrality “the Internet’s guiding principle.” But it has been under attack for years.

Under former FCC Chairman Michael Powell and former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC tried to reclassify broadband Internet service as an “information service.” That took away the FCC’s ability to prevent Internet service providers from discriminating or blocking online content.

Last May, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a plan that basically did away with net neutrality. As Save the Internet described the plan, it “would have allowed companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to discriminate online and create pay-to-play fast lanes.” There was a public outcry, and the plan was toast.

Image credit: Mike Mozart

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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