• On February 14, 2011, MetroPCS filed an ex parte letter at the FCC responding to allegations by Free Press that its new mobile data offerings might violate the Open Internet Rules. Free Press and others had accused MetroPCS of favoring some video websites, notably YouTube, over others through its data plan. The response states that “the innovative pro-consumer, pro-competitive broadband data offerings of MetroPCS are fully compliant with both the letter and the spirit of the Net Neutrality Order.” MetroPCS further stated that it offers unlimited access to YouTube based on YouTube’s popularity and for engineering reasons, not due to any financial arrangement with the website. MetroPCS also stated that any customer could access any VoIP application to the extent the handset has the technical capability. Free Press has replied in a blog entry, stating that MetroPCS’s engineering distinctions are unsubstantiated and that MetroPCS data plans are clearly discriminatory and unreasonable.

MetroPCS’s letter is available here.

The Free Press blog entry is available here.

  • The Level 3-Comcast dispute continues to elicit commentary on whether it involves a net neutrality issue or whether it is a business dispute, but Chairman Genachowski reportedly stated at a Congressional hearing on February 16, 2011 (see Legislative Outlook below) that the FCC will not act on Level 3’s requests because the dispute is not before it. On February 14, 2011, AT&T and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association had filed a joint ex parte letter criticizing Level 3 and arguing that the Open Internet rules do not apply to a peering dispute like the one between Level 3 and Comcast. AT&T and NCTA urged the FCC “to promptly and publicly affirm that Internet peering and other Internet backbone services, including the backbone arrangements described by Level 3 and Comcast, are not subject to [Open Internet] rules.” Level 3 responded by stating that if the Open Internet rules do not apply to backbone services, the rules would be meaningless because Internet service providers could simply bundle Internet access with backbone services to evade them. Level 3 is reportedly considering a formal complaint in order to prompt action from the FCC.

The AT&T-NCTA letter is available here.

Level 3’s response is available here.

  • The submission deadline for the FCC Open Internet Challenge is June 1, 2011. The FCC seeks ideas for monitoring Internet providers’ compliance with the Open Internet rules. The winner will get a trip to Washington, DC and will be honored at an FCC Chairman’s reception. More information can be found here.