Award Winning Blog

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Seven Questions About Wireless Carrier Throttling of All Video Streams

            Verizon has joined the ranks of wireless carriers in the U.S. that degrade video screen resolution even if nearby tower congestion has not occurred.  See  Here are some questions that come to mind:

1)         If ISPs have a lawful claim to First Amendment speaker status, do content providers have a similar, or stronger freedom of expression link when ISPs purposefully distort and degrade the high definition video feed they receive and deliver in standard definition or worse to broadband subscribers?

2)         When, if ever, can an ISP invoke reasonable network management as justification for continuous and deliberate throttling of video traffic even when congestion has not occurred?

3)         Should the FCC impose the same no meddling/no degradation of “must carry” content Congress mandated the Commission establish for cable television operators?

4)         While arguably consumers may not see perceive much video presentation degradation on their smartphone screens, will many wireless broadband subscribers in the future try to “sling” video content from handsets to television sets where the degradation would appear significant?

5)         Is service pricing on the basis of video screen resolution much the same as tiering on the basis of bit transmission speed, or monthly data allowances?

6)         Do wireless carriers give with one hand and take with the other when offering conditionally “unlimited” service subject to standardized throttling of video traffic?  Is this reasonable marketing and puffery, or a deceptive business practice?

7)         Do wireless carriers intentionally, or inadvertently bolster the video on demand market share held by cable television operators when offering inferior screen resolution?

            In a future post, I will provide answers, but for now I would appreciate your thoughts.

1 comment:

Ben Cramer said...

Thoughts on some of your items:

#1. I am a proponent of separating content and conduits for legal purposes, and am fundamentally opposed to network providers (conduits) claiming Free Speech rights when choosing which content to merely deliver. But of course the companies have expensive lawyers who can argue otherwise. As for content creators, they have a free speech right to get their "expression" out into the marketplace, but according to traditional First Amendment law I don't think there's a right to a certain level of quality.

#4. The discussion of #1 above leads me to wonder if the consumer has the free speech right to RECEIVE content, and if so, at what quality level?

#6. "Unlimited" is just a marketing gimmick from companies who don't expect consumers to read the fine print. It's at least puffery, possibly deceptive advertising.