Your internet use could change as 'net neutrality' ends

15 June, 2018, 10:28 | Author: Elena Summers
  • Wake-up call

It's official. The Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, which had required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content, took effect Monday.

Probably not. You won't even see the direct effects of this repeal immediately.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reaffirmed these principles, declaring, "A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service... shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices", and that ISPs "shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content". He said the "Restoring Internet Freedom Order" will only improve the internet for users.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you've heard about the impending death of net neutrality. This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. With startups unable to pay for these lanes, there is no chance that small, unsupported entrepreneurs will turn into future Snapchats or Facebooks, as this repeal only preserves the monopoly that the handful of tech giants now enjoys along with the powers of a few ISPs. Led by current Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC voted 3-2 in December to repeal the Obama-era open internet rules.

The change comes as broadband and cellphone providers expand their efforts to deliver video and other content to consumers.

E-commerce startups have feared that they could end up on the losing end of paid prioritization, with their websites and services loading more slowly than those run by internet behemoths. Now Comcast Cable president Dave Watson posted a blog post today to reconfirm Comcast's "committed to an open internet".

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For anyone who hasn't been following, net neutrality is the concept of treating all internet traffic the same, no matter where it originates from. But what's more likely to occur are subtle changes to your Internet experience that you may or may not notice. And in its repeal decision, the FCC explicitly rejects the idea that it has much authority to regulate Internet providers at all.

"There will be no eulogy today for net neutrality", said Sen.

Since it is now legal for companies to speed up and slow down their services as they wish, customers could be forced to choose between an overall slower service or higher costs. AT&T has had a contract with Netflix since 2014, but they don't have a contract with Hulu.

Last month, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of keeping net neutrality, but the vote was mostly symbolic, as the final decision had to be passed through the Republican majority House of Representatives. "Starting Monday, the FTC will once again be able to protect Americans consistently across the internet economy, and the FCC will work hand-in-hand with our partners at the FTC to do just that".

A group of 22 states have sued the FCC over the repeal.

Martin said broadband providers probably won't mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers. And states like NY have signed executive orders to keep net neutrality in place. Those programs allow consumers to access certain sites and services without the data to and from them applying to any monthly caps they may have.

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