For the past year, I’ve been serving on the FCC’s Open Internet Advisory Committee (OIAC), and chairing its mobile broadband working group. The OIAC just completed its first annual report (available here). The report gives an overview of the past year of work from four working groups (economic impacts, mobile broadband, specialized services, and transparency). I highly recommend anyone interested in Open Internet issues take a look.
In the mobile broadband group, we took on two main tasks:
- AT&T/FaceTime Case Study: Last fall, we did a case study of a timely topic — AT&T limiting usage of Apple’s popular FaceTime video chat application on its cellular network (available here). The case study includes a history of the controversy, an analysis of the key issues (i.e., FaceTime as a preloaded app, the high bandwidth requirements, the carrier’s desire for a phased roll-out, and whether blocking takes place on the user device vs. inside the network). The report ends with three different opinions on whether restricting FaceTime usage on AT&T’s network constituted an inappropriate form of “blocking”, or a reasonable network-management practice.
- Openness in the Mobile Broadband Ecosystem: This spring, we stepped back and did a fairly broad analysis of the state of the mobile broadband ecosystem, considering the influence many different parties (carriers, device and OS manufacturers, application developers, and network equipment vendors) have on openness for mobile broadband users (available here). Folks interested in understanding the mobile broadband landscape, and the sometimes tense interactions between different players, may find this report a useful way to “get up to speed.” The report includes case studies on the role of App Stores, service agreements between carriers and consumers, the influence of applications that make aggressive use of network resources, and the impact of WiFi offloading.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be considering what topics to investigate during the year ahead.
Comments definitely welcome!