Earlier today, the FCC voted 3-2 to reclassify internet service providers (ISPs) under Title II of the Communications Act, providing rules governing ISPs to uphold the concept of Net Neutrality to provide an “open Internet” for Americans. This prevents ISPs from controlling what content people can post or view online or discriminate against certain high-traffic services, like Netflix. It’s about time. And, for the first time, the FCC is applying Net Neutrality rules to mobile Internet in addition to wired Internet services.
One of the key components of Net Neutrality is it states thaty all (legal) content is to be treated equally and ISPs cannot block or throttle content from some providers in favor of other services. An example of this would be Comcast throttling Netflix speeds to its subscribers, giving a “fast lane” to its own Xfinity streaming service — putting a competing service at a disadvantage. It also prohibits paid prioritization, ISPs charging content providers like Netflix and Hulu to have “fast lanes” to get their content to consumers without being throttled. These are especially important with the lack of choice most Americans have in what high-speed Internet provider they use,
Not surprisingly, the major ISPs and their related lobbying groups don’t like Net Neutrality. Verizon even issued a press release in Morse code (translated for “readers in the 21st century” with a typewriter-esque font) decrying the FCC imposing “1930s rules” on the Internet. Coincidentally, Verizon helped this vote for Title II classification happen today. Verizon sued the FCC over less stringent Net Neutrality rules the commission enacted several years ago, rules that were tossed out by a federal appeals court last year. If it wasn’t for that lawsuit, today’s vote probably wouldn’t have happened. So Verizon has itself to blame if they don’t like the new rules.
If you’re undecided on whether or not Net Neutrality is good for consumers, here’s a clue that it is a good thing: the ISPs are opposed to it. Because of this opposition, companies will sue the FCC — like Verizon did previously — to try to get the rules overturned again. That means this will be in litigation for years, but for now we have Net Neutrality, which is a good thing.