By Abdul Khan
According to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, the Obama era Net Neutrality rules that govern access to the Internet will be repealed on December 14th, 2017. While the impact of this action may take some time to directly impact companies and individuals, the FCC vote could signal an important change for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), content creators, and users.
Currently, ISPs are prohibited from blocking or throttling data in any capacity. Especially by using the “paid prioritization” method, which would allow ISPs to charge a premium for access to faster Internet speeds. Without Net Neutrality, “ISPs could charge content providers—the most common example being Netflix—to deliver data to customers through a so-called “internet fast lane.”
When Net Neutrality is repealed, so too will the parameters requiring ISPs to:
- Provide standard and affordable connectivity to all consumers regardless of disability or location.
- Protect consumer privacy across broadband networks.
- Make transparent all charges associated with network access.
A few companies that are Pro-Net Neutrality include Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Pinterest, Netflix, and Google. These companies claim the current state of the Internet is “a testament to the power of the free and open internet to encourage entrepreneurship, drive innovation, make our lives easier, and to support a healthy economy”.
Concurrently, companies such as Verizon, Charter, AT&T, and Comcast would like to repeal Net Neutrality. These companies have made efforts to assure the public that their goal is not to take away the leveled playing field but instead allow for expansion, innovation, and investment.
Comcast stated, “Such regulation is entirely unnecessary and imposes substantial costs that undermine investment and innovation in the broadband ecosystem and undercut efforts to bridge the digital divide in this country.”
AT&T closely followed that sentiment by stating “AT&T has supported an open internet as well as baseline requirements to ensure an open Internet is protected without the regulatory baggage that comes with Title II.”
Obama era Net Neutrality defined the Internet as a public utility to be regulated by the government. Equal access was given to all users with ISPs to promote a fair and open Internet. By voting on December 14th to remove the leveled playing field, ISPs will be able to customize services, control access, and most importantly, define pricing.