Sprint Xohm Plans to Limit Bandwidth for Heavy Internet Usage
In Sprint Nextel's unveiling of its new Xohm WiMax service in Baltimore, it also revealed rules for using its service that one public interest group warns may prevent users from full and unfettered access to the Web.
At question is Sprint's Acceptable Use and Network Management Policy for its high-speed data network. In the usage policy statement, Sprint warns against usage that could "result in an excessive burden of system or network resources."
In those cases, "Xohm may use various tools and techniques designed to limit the bandwidth available for certain bandwidth intensive applications or protocols, such as file sharing," the company states.
Sound familiar? Didn't Comcast just get dinged by the Federal Communications Commission for deliberately slowing traffic of file-sharing application Bit Torrent?
Comcast is fighting that order in court and says now it won't target specific applications but will continue to manage its traffic.
Sprint's policy statement is pretty similar to those of other wireless carriers. But after the decision against Comcast last August and the evolution of wireless to more and more Internet services, Sprint's practice of managing its network traffic is coming under scrutiny.
Sprint said by managing traffic of heavy users, it helps the carrier provide better overall service for all its users.
But public interest group Free Press said Sprint's policy could go against the FCC's broadband policy statement which promotes open Internet access and prevents Internet service providers from intentionally slowing down service for use of certain applications - such as file-sharing applications. Moreover, Free Press wants to know exactly what kinds of tools and techniques it will use to monitor traffic.
"We are very troubled by this development and the larger moves across the wireless industry to limit consumer access to the legal content and services of their choice," said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. "We hope that Sprint will quickly disclose exactly what tools and techniques it plans to use and demonstrate why it is necessary to maintain a closed network when consumers demand an open Internet."
September 29, 2008; 5:57 PM ET
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