History was made on Thursday, February 26, when the FCC Communication Act was approved, yet people hardly reacted. A war for freedom was won without bloodshed and no one blinked. In fact, it seems that very few people even knew that a battle was being waged over the Internet and that their freedoms on it were at risk.
What Was Net Neutrality Again?
The new Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Act for Network neutrality means that all ISPs treat Internet traffic equally. Equality means that they can not block or throttle certain websites or services, it also means they can’t provide a ‘fast lane’ that favors one company or site over the rest.
The new rules prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from giving preferred services to customers and companies that are willing to pay more for it. This finally gives the little a foot in the door; giving small companies the same bandwidth and speed allotment as the big guys.
Why is Anyone Against it?
Companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon have been fighting against net neutrality since the beginning, because they claim that services such as Hulu and Netflix should have to pay for the high bandwidth they use. They argue that streaming a movie takes a higher toll on a network than web surfing. In a way they are correct, Netflix accounts for over a third of North Americas downstream Internet traffic during peak hours.
In a way they are correct, Netflix does take up a great deal of traffic, but they can’t restrict Netflix unless they also chose to restrict YouTube, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon and a slew of other streaming services. Restricting only Netflix means they would be favoring the other services instead, Net Neutrality prevents that favoritism.
The battle is nowhere near over as there are bound to be a slew of lawsuits from the telecommunications companies. Also, the laws themselves still require some refinement and tweaking in the courts, and then they have to go through Congress for final approval. Those are just battles, the war itself is over.
New Classification for Internet
The biggest thing about the new ruling is that Broadband Internet is now considered a public utility. The public utility ruling means that you will still get your Internet from whoever you did before, but they can’t charge you more for services such as Netflix.
It also means that the providers can no long play favorites with the content. This means that you will view videos from Jane Does blog at the same rate as those from CNN or Fox. In the past certain providers have throttled or outright blocked certain content in order to favor affiliates.
In 2007, the Associated Press confirmed through a series of tests, that Comcast was deliberately interfering with some file sharing programs in a move that has been called “the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider.”
After this event was brought to light you might have thought they had learned their lesson, but guess what…
In 2014, Netflix customers on Comcast and Verizon were having issues with a decrease in speeds and as a result poorer video feed. This resulted in Netflix losing customers. Once Netflix paid a ‘toll’ to those ISP Providers customer speeds improved. Netflix customers on Comcast were reported to have a 67% improvement in their average connection speed.
Your ISP won’t be able to pick and choose which sites work well on your connection, they can no longer guide you where they want you to go.
The War is Over, But the Battles Still Rage
Just because the FCC Communication Act passed doesn’t mean we are out of the water. Net Neutrality isn’t 100% yet, but just the reclassification is a huge step in the right direction. As stated earlier there is a still a lot to be done. Not everyone is happy with the new ruling, and lawsuits are expected to start hitting the books any day. Some feel that net neutrality will hinder the growth of Internet Infrastructure, while others feel it will help it grow by giving everyone a chance to participate in where the Internet goes from here.