The FCC will voted today in favor of rules governing the future of Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality, a name coined by Tim Wu back in 2003, is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally by the telecommunication firms. It is the idea that the broadband companies should not filter data, block data, or slow down data transfer based on a user or the type of data that is being sent. These companies should be in the business of simply moving data from point A to point B without interfering with it. The new rules classify ISP’s as public utilities and prevent them from filtering or interfering with the data. The issue has become politically polarized as be seen in the 3 to 2 vote along party lines.
On the other side of the coin, these companies think that a small percentage of internet users are using a majority of the bandwidth, mostly peer-to-peer sharing and video streaming, hence they should have to pay at a high rate since they are responsible for such a large share of the traffic. They also believe these new rules will slow investment and innovation while driving prices higher.
Even though the FCC has approved rules for a fair, equal, and non-discriminatory internet the fight over this issue is far from done. This is just the latest step in a very long process. An incredible 4 million comments were submitted to the FCC on this issue, I guess everyone wants their own say. Now that the FCC as approved the rules they will be challenged in court. Also the Obama administration has been working on its own set of guidelines for Net Neutrality and is expected to release those sometime after the FCC announcement. I wouldn’t count Congress out either, they will definitely be looking to pass legislation in favor of the telecommunications companies. In the end hopefully we will see a balanced and fair solution.