Net Neutrality Fallout: Is Anyone Happy?
Loopholes Could Threaten Pandora, Net Radio
December 23, 2010 at 2:26 PM (PT)
The FCC’s new rules about net neutrality (NET NEWS, 12/21) have achieved something rather remarkable in an era of political divisiveness and rancor. The new rules have something that practically everyone hates. While Republicans charge that the new rules inhibit business profits and growth, free media advocates cite loopholes that could kill off services like PANDORA and Net Radio.
The new rules, approved by a party line 3-2 vote, ban "unreasonable discrimination" from wireline providers, yet is far more flexible when it comes to wireless providers, which will soon be the provider of choice.To many, that flexibility is actually a loophole that will allow big companies to charge consumers more for better wireless access -- and block those who, for instance, use too much bandwidth.
RAIN quotes ANDREW J. SCHWARTZMAN of the MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT, who opined, "There is a reason that so many giant phone and cable companies are happy, and we are not. Those seeking to innovate and invent new uses for digital technologies face the prospect of being blocked, bilked, or intimidated by the [wireless] carriers who control the pipes."
"These rules appear to be flush with giant loopholes, and the FCC chairman seems far more concerned with winning the endorsement of AT&T and the cable lobbyists than with listening to the millions of Americans who have pleaded with him to fix his proposal," Free Press Managing Dir. CRAIG AARON stated in the WALL STREET JOURNAL
The clear losers in this is Internet radio and PANDORA, which will rely on more on wireless usage via smartphones. and that may prove problematic for webcasters. Somehow, though, SIRIUS XM may HAVE come out unscathed by the ruling.
"The idea of Free Unlimited Mobile Internet Radio is dead," BRANDON MATTHEWS wrote in SEEKINGALPHA.COM. "Usage charges that will now be imposed by wireless carriers for bandwidth hogging applications such as the popular PANDORA RADIO, will guarantee SIRIUS XM’s dominance in the audio entertainment space for years to come.
"Consumers which have become accustomed to a monthly cell phone bill of $80-100 may now be faced with monthly cell phone bills closer to $1,000. as monthly bandwidth allotments can used up in as little as 32 minutes.
"Internet Radio and other high bandwidth stealing offerings rely on the infrastructure built and paid for by others. Lacking a proprietary distribution service of their own means that free Internet radio is no longer free. I cannot imagine a world where consumers will agree to pay $1,000.00 a month to listen to 'free' Internet radio, supported by advertising.