Net Neutrality – Should We Care?

I am certain that by now you’ve heard the US Federal Communication Commission adopted rules that will treat Internet service like public utilities (i.e. cable service and telephone service).

what are these new rules?

  • No Blocking
    Internet providers can’t prevent you from accessing “legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices” when you’re on the Internet.
  • No Throttling
    Internet providers can’t deliberately slow down data from applications or sites on the Internet. That means, for instance, that a broadband company has to let all traffic flow equally, regardless of whether it’s coming from a competitor or a streaming video service like Netflix that uses a lot of data.
  • No Paid Prioritization
    Internet providers can’t charge content providers extra to bring their data to you faster. That means no Internet “fast lanes,” because regulators fear they will lead to degraded service for anyone not willing to pay more.

Why was this necessary?

In 2009, Comcast started throttling users who consumed large amounts of bandwidth. That decision cost Comcast $16 million to settle a class action lawsuit (throttling = intentionally reducing bandwidth).

In October 2011, AT&T started throttling heavy users who had unlimited data plans.  In March 2012, they explained how these users could get increased bandwidth by changing to limited use plans.

In July 2014, Verizon was caught throttling Netflix traffic on its network even after Netflix paid Verizon for improved performance and higher bandwidth for video streaming.

When FCC got involved, those plans were pulled.

In December 2014, CNN issued an opinion piece with guest writes that included this statement:

“Any approach that stops short of reclassifying broadband under Title II will not allow the FCC to adopt the rules we need today to protect customers and businesses, and will result in high social and economic costs.”

Bloomberg’s Peter Cook, Chief Washington Correspondent, interviewed Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Corporation, after the landmark FCC ruling. Wozniak said the Internet got ugly when Internet service providers (ISPs) started making decisions not in the interest of Internet users. Wozniak said the FCC action to classify broadband as a public, Title II utility ensures oversight for bad behavior on the part of ISPs. Woznaik also said such action should not be confused with meddling or controlling. He further called the FCC’s action a victory for the common man.

David Cohen, Comcast executive Vice-President reacted by saying:

“After today, the only ‘certainty’… is that we all face inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty,”

And then Verizon issues a formal response to the FCC in morse code and then a typed response written in a “typewriter font”. Really?

This we know. It will take several years for this decision to be fully implemented. Big business is not for Net Neutrality because it controls how they do business. Consumers are for it because it levels the playing field.

Do you recall seeing any news coverage about the FCC Net Neutrality decision on the major news carriers ABC, NBS, or CBS? I found it interesting that these networks opted to report news about what color was that silly dress and llamas on the loose.

What Does This Mean For You And I?

I believe, along with Steve Wozniak, that this is a big victory for the common folks. Unfortunately, the fact that a government agency is now authorized to provide ISP oversight, the possibility exists that in the end we will still lose out. I certainly hope not. I can only hope that the key players play fairly – fat chance.

Other resources:

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.


4 responses to “Net Neutrality – Should We Care?

  1. Awesome explanation! I forwarded your blog post to my son, who like you and the rest of us can’t wait for this to happen!!! Great job and great research and loved how easy it was to understand.

  2. I have no idea how this relates to Australia but believe it or not it was a topic on our national news and all related news programmes. Being a bit poorly this past few weeks I really haven’t ‘taken in’ much of any national or international news but do remember this being mentioned.

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