The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave its verdict on the issue of Net Neutrality on Feb. 26 in a public hearing. At the hearing, the FCC voted to regulate the Internet as a public utility. This decision by the FCC is huge, and affects everyone that uses the Internet.
As a result of this vote, the Internet will now be regulated by the FCC as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Utilizing these elements of the law, the FCC now has the power it needs in order to keep the Internet an open and neutral place that treats Internet traffic fairly.
What does this FCC ruling mean at North Central? It means that students can continue using Internet services such as Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, Youtube, or a variety of other services without having to worry about one of these services being placed in an Internet slow lane. All of these services will continue to reach consumers at the same fast speeds, as they have in the past.
Net Neutrality is the principle that all content providers, such as Netflix, should be able to have equal access to the Internet in order to reach consumers. Right now, the Internet is a neutral environment that treats all content providers in the same way. As a result, every service that someone uses on the Internet is able to reach consumers at the same speed.
With the Internet being a neutral place, all services on the Internet can be looked at as being in one lane. Since all content providers on the Internet are all sharing one lane, not one service can reach a consumer at a faster speed than another service.
The latest vote by the FCC is an attempt to ensure that the Internet does not become a non-neutral place. If the Internet were not a neutral place, some content providers would be able to reach consumers at faster speeds than others. Websites that pay more for their Internet service would essentially be placed in a fast lane while websites that could not afford to pay more would be placed in a slow lane.
According to the FCC’s website, the recent reclassification of the Internet as a public utility has given the FCC the power it has needed to create rules that will help ensure that the Internet remains a neutral and open environment. The FCC used its power it obtained from reclassifying the Internet to create new rules that do not allow for blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization of content on the Internet.
The FCC laid out all of the new rules on its website, such as the no blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization rule. The no blocking rule states that Internet service providers (ISP’s) may not block lawful content. The no throttling rule iterates that ISP’s may not impair Internet content in any way. Lastly, the no paid prioritization rule states that no fast lanes can be created by ISP’s on the Internet.
Before the rules were voted into place, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explained how these rules would aid the Internet. “My proposal assures the rights of Internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission,” said Tom Wheeler to the technology news website Wired.
After the vote on Feb. 26, content providers and users of the Internet alike can rest assured knowing that there is now a strong set of rules in place by the FCC that will help keep the Internet an innovative, open, and fair place that everyone can use.