Image via Wikipedia Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission , Julius Genachowski is considering extending network neutrality rules to the mobile Internet. This development is consistent with the Genachowski-written telecommunications policy of the Obama presidential campaign. Steve Largent, president and CEO of the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunication Industry, CTIA , said in eWeek Friday, "We knew they'd be looking into everybody's business."

The proposal occurs after a decision to change net neutrality principles into rules, which were formerly applicable only to wireline carriers. The rules will prohibit carriers from blocking legal Internet content and allow consumers to connect legal devices of their choice to networks. Two new rules from the Commission prohibit discrimination in handling Internet traffic and transparency about how a carrier manages its traffic.

More passionate responses followed the Chair's proposal to apply these rules to mobile Internet. His argument concentrates on the view that different forms of Internet access have unique technical interests, but they all go to the same place. "It is essential that the Internet itself remain open, however users reach it," he said.

The Chairman has majority support from his fellow Commissioners - FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn gave statements confirming recommendation of Genachowski's rules. In contrast, the two Republicans that complete the five-member commission, Robert McDowell and Meredith Atwell Baker, issued a statement of opposition.

These rules would have a profound effect on the wireless carrier industry if jurisdiction is broadened. With improved speeds approaching home Internet quality, the difference in consumer access to that connection is more obvious than ever. According to the Washington Post , restrictions on bandwidth, limits or prohibitions on specific uses are common on all nationwide carriers - AT&T Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

By Mathieu Ramage