After more than a decade of squabbling, shady loopholes and uncertain policies, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has released his new proposal strongly supporting Net Neutrality.
The move was expected, but still a relief to consumers who have been eagerly awaiting news on the coming regulations. It is also a major blow against mobile providers and ISPs, in particular Verizon, T-Mobile and Comcast. All three have been personally cited in written letters over the past year for their actions against customers and their domination of the market.
In the proposed plan, three major changes will take effect: service cannot be throttled and slowed, legal content cannot be blocked or access restricted to legal sites, and paid prioritization is finally off the table completely. Which would mean no internet tiers that allow certain users (those who paid more) to gain preferential speeds and access.
Wheeler stipulated that network management was still within the power of providers. However, they must fall within proposed guidelines, and be “reasonable”. Many of the loopholes, such as the one that allowed Verizon to plan service throttling as recently as last year, will be closed.
The Internet As A Protected Service
The biggest news comes with the classification of the web. As many have been proposing for some time, the internet is being labeled under Title II as a telecommunications utility. This has been a very popular suggestion, backed by companies like Netflix, and President Barack Obama.
Several big names have been against this option from the time it was proposed. The reasoning behind their dissent was that it would limit broadband’s ability to find investors, which could cripple the future of internet services.
Wheeler has denied this, stating that it actually provides an incentive, while allowing the policies and regulations surrounding the internet to grow alongside it. In the proposal, it talks about providing a standard for future conduct, as well as greater transparency and broad protection.
In addition, Title III would also be changed, which restricts the internet from being labeled as a telecommunications service.
This proposal could put to rest the fight that has been going on for years, and puts down a strict set of guidelines that stops ISP’s from conducting a number of the shady practices that have brought them under fire. Especially when it comes to impeding consumer access and speeds in cases of otherwise legal activity and personal use.
We also no longer have to worry about consumers being left in the dust, or small businesses being impacted as better service is given to more wealthy corporations and organizations. Considering we live in a world where startups are more viable and common than ever, this is good news for the little guys who feared the consequences of losing that particular fight.
Ultimately, this is good news for consumers in the US, and it sets a new standard that can act as precedent for the years to come. It is a much better outcome than we might have expected a year ago.