Last week, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality, a set of regulations issued during the Obama presidency that govern the way internet service providers (ISP) are allowed to connect with consumers. The rules prohibited providers from engaging in the practice of “paid prioritization,” an arrangement in which fees are paid to the provider for preferential access or speed. The public outcry has been intense, especially from Democrats and millennials who worry that the repeal will mean less access or more costly access to their favorite websites.
Net neutrality was put into place after the FCC reclassified broadband from an “information service” to a “common carrier.” As Politifact reports, this put broadband – the technique in which communication is transmitted – into the same regulated classes as electric, telephone, and airlines. The repeal effectively stripped broadband from regulation, which means that technically, providers can create and offer pay-to-play Internet options.
Despite assurance from the FCC that the repeal of the 2015 regulations will not interfere with browsing speed or access to the internet, some are concerned that the big providers, such as Verizon, Comcast Xfinity, and AT&T Internet will be able to manipulate the system to block, slow down, or speed up traffic. However, those in favor of the repeal have pointed out that most of the large IPOs will work to stay in the public’s good graces; at least for now.
Proponents of the repeal believe that the net neutrality rules are so new that a repeal isn’t going to affect the way ISPs provide services. According to Fortune, even with net neutrality rules, companies were already offering faster and cheaper access to their own preferred content, as in the case of AT&T’s providing access to DirecTV, without it counting toward data caps.
Besides less government control, those in favor of the repeal believe that it’s actually beneficial to be able to pick and choose the type of service you want. In addition, with less regulation, proponents expect providers to use money previously spend on filings and paperwork to build better infrastructure and expand their offerings to consumers.