Net Neutrality, Part 2: How It Affects Wireless Networks

Posted on July 21st, 2017 in Net Neutrality

net neutrality and wireless networks swg inc

In the first part of our net neutrality blog series, we discussed the history of the regulation and how it’s in danger of being abolished. Now that we have an understanding of what the provisions mean to the broadband industry, how has net neutrality affected ISPs both big and small?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons these rules have on the wireless industry.

Why Net Neutrality is Good For Wireless

Net neutrality essentially gives us an open and free internet. It allows consumers to surf, shop, and stream anything on the web without any hindrance from ISPs. It essentially turns an ISP into a utility instead of a business. So how can an internet provider benefit from net neutrality?

The biggest benefit from these provisions is it breeds competition. It curtails any anti-competitive conduct from some of the biggest ISPs in the industry such as Verizon and Comcast. The provisions also prevent these carriers from controlling the internet experience and harming smaller ISPs.

For example, Section 224 of the Communications Act gives every broadband provider the legal right to many poles across the nation. But by getting rid of net neutrality, this section will no longer be in effect. And that means if a pole is owned by the larger ISPs, then a smaller ISP will not be able to use that pole to deploy its network. That’s bad for business and bad for competition.

Why Net Neutrality is Bad For Wireless

Above we outlined how net neutrality is good for business. But it’s not all good, especially when it comes to 5G networks.

The attraction of 5G is it provides different types of services over the same infrastructure. Currently, all networks assign equal priority to all applications, no matter how slow or how fast the application is. But 5G allows providers to divide networks to cater to each user’s specific needs.

For example, one user streams videos on a regular basis while another uses low-latency applications. Right now, both users are receiving the same amount of traffic. But with a 5G network, the provider can split that traffic. This allows the streaming video user to stream at lightning fast speeds, compared to the low-latency user who may not need that speed for applications.

But with net neutrality, 5G providers are unable to prioritize this traffic since all traffic must be equal, according to net neutrality. And this could cause serious problems on a 5G network.

What Happens Next?

It’s obvious that the net neutrality provisions have both a positive and negative impact on our industry. But what is the worst-case scenario if it disappears? Will competition disappear or flourish? Could it hinder or improve wireless communications? We will discuss all this next week in our last blog.

Posted in Net Neutrality

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