On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to vote on the “net-neutrality” rules that would make broad-band Internet providing services be regulated as a normal public utility with regulators being able to choose the right rates, terms and conditions for internet service providers.
Many oppose the new set of regulation for several reasons. Tech and telecom companies complain that the new rules would hurt their business, tech experts cry that FCC would curb internet growth and innovation, while a part of the general public fears that the new regulation is an Orwellian step towards more government control over the Internets, while setting a bad example for dictatorship countries.
Meanwhile, the Congress plans to start a hot debate over the net neutrality issue with hearings scheduled both in the House and Senate starting Wednesday. On Friday, Republicans already issued a draft bill designed to block FCC plans of over-regulating the Internet. Also, many supporters of net neutrality have expressed concerns in the Congress about the new regulations to be adopted.
President Obama and the FCC said that the new regulations are required to prevent ground-based Internet service Providers (ISPs) from choking content providers whenever the latter pose a competitive threat to the ISPs’ own content services, or fail to pay higher fees. The most cited failure of a lightly regulated Internet is the Netflix case.
Between 2013 and 2014, Netflix users that used Comcast’s service to access Netflix found that their access to the content was progressively slowered as Netflix attracted more and more users. Netflix reported back then that Comcast refused to upgrade the broadband capacity. However, early last year, Netflix paid Comcast an undisclosed sum of money and got the problem fixed.
“The reason I think Netflix has captured people’s attention is what happened to our service was real, it was bad, and it was recent. They think of that buffering signal and the video that didn’t start and the problems that net neutrality is supposed to solve were literally brought home,”
said Corie Wright, a spokesperson for Netflix.
However, ground internet service providers claim that the upcoming FCC regulations that would reclassify their services as a regulated public utility would diminish their capacity and harm investment.
They also said that if one of them was throttling content access, their customers would just migrate to a competitor.
“Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem,”
broadband providers argued.
However, beside increased prices and low quality of services that the new regulation is expected to bring, people also fear that after net neutrality the next step is regulation of content.
Image Source: Contact Virgin Media