Xohm WiMax usage policy says Sprint can enforce bandwidth limits

Sprint touts 'open Internet' model on Xohm but says it may limit some bandwidth-intensive apps

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At the time, the FCC said the principles weren't enforceable. But in August, the commission ruled that Comcast Corp., the second-largest broadband services provider in the U.S., couldn't throttle customer access to BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file-sharing services in order to reduce network congestion. The FCC said that the network management techniques used by Comcast — which has appealed the ruling — were "invasive."

It's unclear whether the FCC could enforce a Comcast-type ruling on Sprint's WiMax service. An FCC spokesman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on Sprint's network management plans. However, some other wireless data services also have put restrictions on customer use.

For instance, the terms of service that Verizon Wireless has set for its EVDO data service restrict its use to Internet browsing, e-mail and intranet access. Verizon Wireless prohibits customers from using EVDO for uploading or downloading movies, music and games, among other things. Earlier this year, the company agreed to adjust data caps on the so-called unlimited service after an investigation by the New York state attorney general, although the probe didn't lead to any charges.

Free Press isn't comparing Sprint's situation to the Comcast one, and the advocacy group said it doesn't plan to file a complaint with the FCC. But it does want Sprint to provide more information about its network management plans to Xohm customers. "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," Scott said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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