Due to a new ruling by the FCC we now have free open access to the internet via the Net Neutrality Rules. The Open Internet Oder, as it is called, ensures that the internet services providers are now a neutral path to the internet and can no longer treat different types of traffic differently and charging different costs.
Are You Ready for Net Neutrality?
This policy replaces a previous version that came out in 2010 but was halted by a legal battle brought by Verizon. This legal action meant that the FCC had to find a way to reclassify broadband to enable better regulatory controls. As with any news like this there were people cheering the decision as well as criticizing it.
According to NPR.org, the ACLU was cheering.
“Welcoming today’s news, the ACLU’s legislative counsel Gabe Rottman says:
‘This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens’ ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference. Title II provides the firmest possible foundation for such protections. We are still sifting through the full details of the new rules, but the main point is that the Internet, the primary place where Americans exercise their right to free expression, remains open to all voices and points of view.’”
And the group, Broadband for America, was criticizing.
“Broadband for America, a group whose members include major Internet service providers, is calling for Congress to intervene. Its honorary co-chairs John Sununu and Harold Ford Jr. say:
‘The FCC’s decision to impose obsolete telephone-era regulations on the high-speed Internet is one giant step backwards for America’s broadband networks and everyone who depends upon them. These ‘Title II’ rules go far beyond protecting the Open Internet, launching a costly and destructive era of government micromanagement that will discourage private investment in new networks and slow down the breakneck innovation that is the soul of the Internet today.’”
When I asked our CEO, Bernadette Coleman, her feelings on the new policy she replied,
“This has been a long time coming. The Internet is the most powerful platform in the world and it is quite simply too important to be left without some guidelines and structure. The fight to protect an “open internet” is an important fight and this helps create a level playing field.”
Those are the facts and opinions, but the real question everyone wants to know is how will this affect me, the consumer?
The real answer to that question will come later after this policy is up and fully running, however, the main difference in theory will be that anything you do on the internet; be it video streaming, posting on social media sites, etc., will now be treated equally by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
This is also seen as a positive step for entrepreneurs and startups as it should give them easier access to broadband networks without interference from those pesky ISPs. Although how smoothly this will all work is yet to be seen.
In theory, most of us shouldn’t really notice much of a difference since a lot of what this policy does is regulate the ISPs and they are the ones that will feel the impact of all this. Some people worry that this policy will have a negative effect on competition between the ISPs which might lead to some dropping out of the game altogether. The fear there is that we would eventually end up with another “Ma Bell” type of monopoly. But, again, this is all speculation and we will all just continue on with our normal lives and let the ISP giants deal with sorting it all out. There likely will be some lawsuits that come out of this, similar to the one brought on by Verizon back in 2010 when a first draft of this policy attempted to go through because this is something ISPs don’t care for since it will ultimately affect their bottom line.
The reality is that I think we are in for a bit of a wait until this all works out and gets into full implementation. In the meantime, it is at least reassuring that the FCC is considering policies like this one as we make our way into the ever-changing landscape of new technologies.