No immediate changes appear to have been made to at least three of the country’s biggest service providers’ policies following yesterday’s controversial decision to repeal net neutrality protections. That’s based on disclosure statements posted to Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T’s websites and despite expectations from some that the companies would immediately begin behaving badly. It bears mention that those statements don’t negate the possibility that changes will be enacted if the current debate surrounding the issue begins to wane. Given the arguments that have been made in support of the laws and the history of carriers in the U.S. that outcome is arguably even likely. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that other companies are going to hold to the same standards since they are technically no longer required to. However, for the time being, each of the listed company’s appears to be holding course with their previously stated policies on the matters of paid prioritization, blocking, and throttling.
Each has also made reasonable accommodations in the policies themselves to allow those promises to be broken when dealing with identity theft, illegal content, or other security concerns. That’s generally good news for consumers, for now, but not every major internet provider is making the same commitments. The fourth largest ISP, Charter Communications, makes no promises about paid prioritization of network traffic to or from any given source or for any given reason. While it does promise not to throttle or block access under the same conditions as the other ISPs, paid prioritization has been among the chief concerns expressed by net neutrality advocates. The worry is that providers will force payment for traffic to and from competing services to be placed on the same prioritization as others. It’s not something that’s unheard of and similarly anti-competitive practices have been implemented in the past.
In spite of the commitments from even staunch opponents of net neutrality laws such as AT&T, the general public has largely been in favor of net neutrality laws and similar rules. There’s also still a relatively large collection of companies, state and local governments, and advocate groups pressing to see the laws reinstated. So the repeal won’t necessarily result in massive changes to the policies of industry-involved companies right away, regardless of legality.