How does net neutrality effect me?

Q: What is net neutrality?
A: Net neutrality, or open Internet, is the principle that Internet service providers should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring or blocking some sources. It also prohibits Internet service providers (ISPs) from charging content providers for speedier delivery of their content on “fast lanes” or deliberately slowing the content from content providers that may compete with ISPs.

Q: How will new net neutrality rules affect me?
A: The rules aim to ensure a high-quality Internet experience for all on home broadband Internet service. The proposed FCC regulations aim to ensure that Internet content — be it streaming video, audio or other content — will be treated equally by Internet service providers. Another goal of the initiatives: To give start-ups and entrepreneurs access to broadband networks without undue influence from the ISPs.

Q: How will new net neutrality rules affect me?
A: The rules aim to ensure a high-quality Internet experience for all on home broadband Internet service. The proposed FCC regulations aim to ensure that Internet content — be it streaming video, audio or other content — will be treated equally by Internet service providers. Another goal of the initiatives: To give start-ups and entrepreneurs access to broadband networks without undue influence from the ISPs.

Q: So what’s going to happen when I’m streaming House of Cards in the future?
A: In theory, the only thing that should change is that there are actual regulations on the books — or potentially laws, should Congress pass new ones — that prohibit ISPs’ discrimination of content and content providers. An ISP would be prohibited from slowing the delivery of a TV show simply because it’s streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP. That doesn’t mean everyone gets the same level of Internet service — remember, customers already pay for different speeds. And the price of broadband could rise over the years as speeds increase and technology advances. What the FCC’s rules would do is prevent an ISP from favoring content, blocking content, or other conduct that would harm consumers.

Q: What’s the difference between an ISP and a content provider? 
A: An Internet service provider is a company that provides you with access to the Internet. Some popular ISPs in the U.S. include AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable. Content providers are companies like Netflix and Amazon that create and/or distribute videos and programs. Sometimes an ISP is also a content provider. For instance, Comcast owns NBCUniversal and delivers TV shows and movies through its Xfinity Internet service.

Q. What are the net neutrality rules proposed to the FCC?
A. The full details of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal are still under wraps, but Wheeler has said that broadband networks should be fast, fair and open. His plan would reclassify ISPs as public utilities and apply the regulatory measures that have been imposed on phone companies and other utilities. The plan does not include rate regulations, unbundling or new tariffs or taxes. “In general, if an action hurts consumers, competition, or innovation, the FCC will have the authority to throw the flag,” said Wheeler. The FCC’s fact sheet on Wheeler’s proposal can be seen here.

Q: Why is Wheeler pitching his open Internet proposal now?
A: The FCC has been recasting net neutrality rules because the previous set was tossed out by a federal court in January 2014. Since then, the agency has had no official authority to protect an open Internet.

Q: So Wheeler essentially wants to treat the Internet like a public utility. Why?
A: To give it the authority to regulate it. To do so, Wheeler wants to reclassify Internet providers as “common carriers,” private companies that sell their services to all consumers without discrimination, similar to how consumers got landline telephone service.

Q: Who supports net neutrality?
A: Content providers, Apple and Google included, support net neutrality. They say consumers are already paying for connectivity and they deserve to get a quality experience. Many consumers like the idea of net neutrality — that there are some regulations that protect the data on the Internet. More than 4 million people filed public comments to the FCC about net neutrality, more than any other issue they’ve handled. Some of those were trade associations and companies, but the majority of them were average people, supporting net neutrality.

Q: Who is not supporting net neutrality?
A: More than two-dozen broadband companies, including AT&T, Comcast, Cox and Verizon, voiced concerns that the FCC might be too heavy-handed with increased regulatory power under these proposed rules. “As it begins its rule-making process, the Commission should reaffirm its commitment to the light-touch approach that has ensured America’s leadership throughout the Internet ecosystem, from networks to services, from applications to devices,” reads a letter signed by the companies. Separately, some members of Congress — mostly Republicans — are working on a bill to protect open Internet, but prohibit the FCC from going overboard with certain regulatory powers.

Q: How did the vote go down?
A: The net neutrality proposal passed. As expected, the five-member commission voted 3 to 2 to approve it. Joining Wheeler in voting for his plan were Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, the two Republicans on the commission, voted against it. The regulations will be published in the Federal Register in a few weeks. They become effective 30 days after publication.

About

For the past 35+ years, computers, advanced technology and solving problems with this new technology have been his business. In 1978, he graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC with the first graduating class in the 16 North Carolina Universities with an Information Systems degree from the College of Business. For the last 14 years Nicky has served as the visionary leader and CEO of CAROLINANET.COM, a web hosting and server colocation data center and since 2004 the CEO of Carolina Digital Phone offering hosted telephone services and SIP Trunking. Read more at his LinkedIN page http://www.linkedin.com/in/nickysmith