Last Thursday, the FCC voted along party lines to repeal the Obama Era Net Neutrality rules. Those who oppose the reversal fear big-business monopolies and reduced freedom of choice for consumers. Those who support the Net Neutrality repeal insist that consumers will actually benefit. Furthermore, they say, with Net Neutrality now history, small businesses and innovators will find the Internet more open and supportive of entrepreneurship.
First, what, exactly, is Net Neutrality? Also known as the Open Internet, it is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) may not give preference to any content provider, and may not prioritize, restrict access, or charge more for certain sites, such as those that stream movies or promote a particular viewpoint or agenda. Under Net Neutrality rules, ISPs have been classified as public utilities.
Many worry that without Net Neutrality, the average internet surfer will be forced to pay more for bandwidth. They also fear that the repeal could have an even more devastating impact on other types of consumers. Schools that rely on access to material such as online lectures, supplemental content, and even the ability to upload and download work, may find it cost-prohibitive, they say. Low-income and rural populations who rely on services such as telemedicine may also suffer.
Opponents of Net Neutrality say that its reversal will “open up” the Internet for healthier competition among ISPs, resulting in better access for all consumers.
In the FCC vote to reverse Net Neutrality, the three Republican commissioners voted in favor, and the two Democrat commissioners dissented. The following two video clips show Ajit Pai, current Chairman of the FCC, discussing the decision. The first video clip also includes the two Democratic commissioners voicing their dissent.
The FCC Just Killed Net Neutrality | The Verge (2017-12-14)
FCC votes to overturn Obama-era net neutrality rules | Fox News (2017-12-14)
With the revocation of Net Neutrality, then, will we see a “great explosion of entrepreneurial brilliance,” as predicted by former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell? Or will the disrupters and innovators be stifled? Will online public services be more readily accessible to those who need them, or will they end up in a tangle of slow traffic for those who can’t afford to pay premium prices? Will we just have to wait and see?
FCC repealed net neutrality: Here are the myths to be aware of | Fox Business Network (2017-12-15)
With No Net Neutrality, Is There Hope For The Open Internet? | AM Joy |MSNBC (2017-11-27)