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“Shifting from Neutral to Drive”

The notion of “net neutrality” has been one of the controversial topics of debate in telecommunications over the past few years. First coined in 2003 by Columbia University Professor Tim Wu, the idea was that a communications network (e.g., an Internet Service Provider) should not have the right to limit speeds or otherwise adversely affect a user’s access to the Internet. The debate heated up in 2014 when President Obama announced his strong support for net neutrality. Many telecom industry giants immediately opposed certain aspects of net neutrality, calling it over-regulation and too much government. Some claimed that net neutrality would discourage infrastructure providers from continued investment in their broadband networks, since there is no clear path to recovering that investment. In 2015 the FCC approved net neutrality under the title “Open Internet Order.”

On the wireless side the debate is fuzzier. To avoid jeopardizing its stance on net neutrality, the FCC had initially exempted mobile operators from compliance. However when the Commission decided that the rules applied to telephone carriers, the mobile industry seemed to be included, although the extent and manner of enforcement are not clear. Meanwhile, net neutrality has been appealed to the Supreme Court, and enforcement in the near term is unlikely.

The changing of the guard in Washington that will take place in January forebodes a major shift in political philosophy in everything from immigration to health care to taxation. Many laws enacted over the past eight years will be revisited, and the behavior of many government agencies will change as new leadership assumes control. Last week’s resignation of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will result in some uncertainties for wireless operators. Once the inauguration is behind us, it will be interesting to see how Donald Trump’s administration will deal with net neutrality. Political pundits are expecting significant deregulation, including the repeal of net neutrality.

In almost every likely scenario, mobile operators will be given the freedom to manage their own networks, and will be encouraged to invest in future growth and innovation. Hence, not surprisingly, in the past few weeks since the election, we have seen renewed interest in ClearSky’s Total Traffic Manager (TTM). This service allows wireless operators to measure, manage and optimize their subscribers’ data traffic. You can build creative rate plans that allow you to count, bundle, segregate, divert, or selectively charge for different types of traffic. And the TTM service features an in-network appliance supported by a team of experts behind the curtains who will work with marketing and operations staff to build and enforce your data usage policies.

So, if you have been on the fence about traffic management and policy enforcement, now is the time to shift from neutral to drive and accelerate your business performance!