Over the past few months, there has been wide debate over the future of the internet in the U.S. The debate has centered over Net Neutrality and whether there should be some regulation of internet service providers (ISPs) to stop them from favoring certain users or companies. The best way to think of this is when some users are unnecessarily slowed down or receive capped limits due to their supposed ‘deal’. In contrast, those who are paying more, continue to receive better, faster and more stable connections. This is the concept behind ‘Paid Prioritization’ and what proponents of Net Neutrality were hoping to counteract.
As such, the last few months have seen the debate reaching its neared climax, with the FCC deciding on whether they should step-in and reclassify internet (including mobile) as a utility under Title II legislation. In short, reclassifying internet services to be a similar type of service to what you receive from telephone service companies. The latest is that the debate has now finally reached its conclusion and the FCC have voted 3-2 in favor of reclassifying broadband and internet services as utilities. As such this is a big win for those who were in favor of bringing ISPs to task and especially for Tom Wheeler who was largely seen as spearheading the campaign.
So what does this mean for the average user? Well, the new rules will mean that internet providers can no longer intentionally slow down internet speeds for certain customers. Likewise, this means that the same internet providers can no longer restrict (or demand greater payments) from companies like Netflix for access to what is commonly referred to as ‘fast lanes’. Instead, internet providers will have to provide access to all on an equal footing with no ability to offer paid prioritization. Most importantly, the latest move in reclassification will give the FCC powers to act on companies who ignore these rules, similar to how they would with phone carriers and providers. Of course, it is unlikely this will be the end of the matter as some providers have already made it known that they stand opposed to reclassification, as they feel regulated the internet will have its own adverse repercussions. So it is likely we will see appeals being set in motion in due course. In the meantime though, how do you feel about the news? Glad the FCC has voted to reclassify? Let us know.