FCC Approves Proposed Rules for Net Neutrality

By February 26, 2015

At its meeting today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a new group of widespread internet rules dubbed “net neutrality” by observers and analysts. This follows from a longstanding debate going back at least five years, after another set of rules was put on hold due to a legal challenge by telecom company Verizon.

According to NPR, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the new rules will ensure “that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet,” later calling the vote outcome a “red-letter day” for advocates of an “open Internet.” Among other effects, the new rules will, according to the report, “now treat Internet service providers as carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which regulates services as public utilities.”

The outcome basically determines the fate of the Internet by making it a neutral gateway, prohibiting Internet service providers from creating different pricing levels for different kinds of traffic. Proponents of the new rules called these “Internet fast lanes,” where uninterrupted service and consistent speeds are guaranteed for a price. This would mean that high-bandwidth services, like Netflix or YouTube, could have their access limited unless they contract with internet service providers for uninterrupted bandwidth. Beyond that, the impact on the every day consumer if these rules were not adopted would mean that ISPs could essentially create unequal levels of access based solely on who would be able to pay for a more premium service, which net neutrality supporters have said would create a “closed” Internet that could “kill innovation.”

Opponents of the new rules have said that they are a “regulatory overreach,” and that the FCC is trying to solve a problem that “doesn’t exist” by creating new, top-down regulations.

Companies supporting the new FCC rules include Google, Netflix, Twitter, Amazon, and eBay. Companies against the new rules are generally ISPs themselves, including Comcast and Verizon.

For more background on Net Neutrality, see the FCC’s statements about an open Internet at their official website. For a less balanced, but insightful and very entertaining approach to the subject, check out this segment from John Oliver’s HBO series “Last Week Tonight” from mid-2014.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.