We did it!
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a public utility and the icing on the cake is that they included mobile broadband.
This means that ISPs are required by law to respect Internet Neutrality.
What Does the New Classification Mean?
The Thursday vote reclassified fixed broadband lines under Title II of the Telecommunications act, meaning that all ISPs and mobile broadband providers are now classified as public utilities. This means they will get stricter regulations on how they handle things and that they can not offer ‘fast lanes’ for Internet services. Every website and service provider will be given equal treatment without content blocking (as long as it is legal) or speed throttling.
Was it Necessary?
In 2009, Comcast started throttling bandwidth on users that they deemed as bandwidth hogs, which at that point were primarily Torrent users. They were also hit with a class-action lawsuit over previous throttling efforts that had begun in 2007. The lawsuit was settled in 2010 and Comcast was forced to pay up to $16 to customers that they had affected.
If you thought that a loss of $16 M would have any effect on these big companies you were wrong. In January 2014, PC World did an article on BitTorrent Throttling and showed us how the different ISPs had been slowly throttling rates.
Even the mobile broadband connections weren’t immune to throttling because Verizon had a campaign last summer where they announced that they were instituting a throttling policy on heavy LTE Data users, despite them having unlimited plans. Unfortunately their announcement has been removed from the website, but you can still find discussion of it here. At least they shelved this idea in October, once the FCC started looking at it.
So unless you wanted to continue seeing further restrictions on your Internet service and let the ISPs decide where you can and can not go…I think it was necessary.
Why Oppose it?
Opponents to Internet Neutrality claim that this new ruling will hinder network infrastructure growth in North America.
The U.S. already has some of the slowest and most expensive Internet around, with the worst customer service worldwide. Many providers have refused to expand either speed or capacity citing that is too expensive for them to expand or maintain. They were claiming this long before the FCC got involved.
Now with the FCC in control there will be more monitoring and complaints are more likely to be heard. It also means that the government can step in and demand that ISPs meet a set standard. What that standard is hasn’t been determined yet, but this is one of the many points still to be negotiated.
The odds of opening up the market to new competition are slim. Part of the FCC vote was quite explicit about not forcing the ISPs to share their networks. This means that local market monopolies will probably stay in place.
The FCC ruling also means that government regulations apply to ISPs, unfortunately this also allows the FCC to regulate rates, sets rules and conditions, and increase the cost. It also allows the government to impose additional taxes on your bill.
Overall, we will probably see a long term price increase, but I would rather pay for my freedom then turn a blind eye to my shackles.
Is the Fight Over
Hell NO! The big companies are going to fight this ruling tooth and nail. Expect to see them bringing a multitude of lawsuits out this week. There is also a movement lobbying Republicans in Congress to undo the FCC ruling. So may still lose our Internet freedom.
Don’t let the big companies win. Keep your eyes on the news regarding Internet Freedoms, let your politicians know where you stand and write…..write anything you can think of to support the freedom of the Internet.
Send letters to newspapers, blog, text, tweet, Instagram…use every media means at your disposal to let the world know where you stand and that you want to defend your right to Internet Neutrality.
Even posting comments and sharing this article will help boost the odds of Internet Neutrality and keeping your Internet Neutral.