Sat, Sep 02, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Apple turns vocal on ‘net neutrality’

FAST LANE:The Republican US administration is rolling back rules prohibiting charging more for certain kinds of Web traffic and questioning state authority over providers


Apple Inc told US regulators that it opposes charging higher fees for faster internet access, just weeks after pledging to spend US$1 billion making movies and TV shows to stream online.

“Paid fast lanes could replace today’s content-neutral transmission of internet traffic with differential treatment of content based on an online providers’ ability or willingness to pay,” Apple vice president of public policy Cynthia Hogan wrote in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday.

“It could create artificial barriers to entry for new online services, making it harder for tomorrow’s innovations to attract investment and succeed,” she wrote.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by US President Donald Trump, is rolling back Obama-era net neutrality rules by lifting bans on blocking Web traffic and building “fast lanes” that favor those willing to pay more for faster service.

Until now, Apple mostly avoided the net neutrality debate, although chief executive Tim Cook earlier this year said that might change if it became a topic of political discussion.

Apple’s fastest growing business is Services, which includes offerings like the App Store, music streaming and cloud storage. The Cupertino, California-based company is spending US$1 billion on video content that could serve as the foundation of a new streaming product, people familiar with the plan said earlier this month.

Hogan also addressed the extent of the FCC’s authority over broadband Internet service providers, a sticking point in debates over the net neutrality rules.

The agency claimed strong authority normally applied to utilities when it in 2015 wrote the rules under Democratic Party leadership. Broadband providers and Republicans say that gives the FCC too much power to interfere in business decisions.

“Apple remains open to alternative sources of legal authority, but only if they provide for strong, enforceable and legally sustainable protections, like those in place today,” Hogan wrote. “Simply put, the Internet is too important to consumers and too essential to innovation to be left unprotected and uncertain.”

US lawmakers have been debating whether to remove the strong utility-style authority in potential legislation.

Democrats have objected to earlier proposals, saying they would weaken the FCC’s authority.

Separately, Apple has set Sept. 12 for its most significant new product announcement in years.

The company plans to introduce three new iPhone models, a version of its Apple TV set-top-box that can stream higher-quality content and a new version of the Apple Watch that can connect to LTE cellular data networks, Bloomberg has reported.

The event will be the first at the new Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, and take place in a theater named for company co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple said.

The invitation to media reads: “Let’s meet at our place,” referring to the event’s location.

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