By Adrian Ramirez and Luisana Duarte
After months of intense debates between Internet service providers and content providers, demonstrations, and over four million Americans participating in the Net Neutrality for ‘Open Internet’ discussion, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has passed a historic ruling regarding net neutrality.
The new ruling reclassifies Internet as a telecommunication service and places new regulations on the companies that provide Internet to consumers. With a 3-2 vote, the FCC voted for applying the Title II regulations of the Telecommunications Act to broadband Internet services. The regulations outlined in Title II ensure equal content delivery speeds and protects net neutrality for content providers and the users who view that content. With over four million Americans participating in the Net Neutrality or Open Internet discussion, FCC’s chair Tom Wheeler considers the decision as “Good News for Consumers, Innovators and Financial Markets.”
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality is the idea that all data on the Internet should be treated the same by ISPs and that users should have equal access to all of that data, prohibiting ISPs from giving preferential treatment to certain content by placing them on “fast lanes.” In other words, ISPs should not be allowed to prioritize faster access to certain websites and content based on a fee or payment.
The practice of “paid prioritization” meant that content providers, such as Netflix and Google, could pay the ISP to allow faster access to their website. The lack of regulations also allowed ISPs to slow down access to websites that would not pay, making it even harder for smaller businesses on the “slow lanes” to compete with larger, more established ones. Needless to say, this controversial practice has been met with disapproval from nearly everyone, from content providers to users. Even President Obama called for an end to paid prioritization.
After months of public demonstrations and outcry calling for net neutrality, the FCC placed the Internet under Title II regulation, establishing ISPs as “common carriers.” This classification gives the FCC the authority to impose regulations prohibiting paid prioritization and requiring ISPs to give equal access to all content.
However, concern has risen about the possibility of stagnant innovation in telecommunications brought on by regulations. Verizon Communications, who considers itself a Title II common carrier, has already spoken out on the issue and language that is present in the Title II ruling. The company has taken the argument to an extreme with a blog post in morse code claiming that the ruling is based on outdated technology. The blog post’s 21st Century translation PDF, written in a smudgy typewriter font, focuses on a statement by Verizon’s senior vice president, Michael E. Glover. Glover believes the FCC’s decision will, “encumber broadband Internet services with badly antiquated regulations.” Glover worries that the “radical step” will “[presage] a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors.”
Turmoil over the decision is already brewing in Congress. Without a doubt, intents for repeal and lawsuits will follow the FCC’s controversial ruling. Check back with us for more updates on this developing story.
Click here to read the FCC’s official press release.
What do you think of the FCC’s ruling? What impact do you think Net Neutrality will have? We want to know!