New Rules for Net Neutrality

Recently, in a highly anticipated move, the FCC voted in support of net neutrality rules. It was touted as an historic moment, but what exactly does it mean to the average consumer?

Net neutrality is not a new concept; it’s actually how the internet has been running for quite a while now. The open architecture of the net is the reason we see small startups becoming big business and nearly every small business can offer an online storefront. The “no fast lanes” argument that has dominated the conversation about net neutrality is an effort to keep things running just that way: all content loads at roughly the same speed, regardless of which providers can afford to pay the ISPs more. The FCC’s ruling bans paid prioritization, which means that some sites could make a deal with your ISP to make their content load faster than others, hoping that you would choose a faster site over a slower one.

In order to enforce net neutrality, the FCC has reclassified broadband internet service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. Essentially, this makes your broadband service subject to the same rules as your phone service and gives the FCC the power to prohibit any shady business practices that are unfair to the consumer. There is a potential downside, though. This new classification could be interpreted to make broadband service subject to the same fees as phone service as well, in which case all those little fees you see on your phone bill might show up on your broadband bill, too.

It’s important to remember that none of these net neutrality rules are set in stone right now. Everything is open to legal interpretation and questioning, and there are already measures being raised in Congress to challenge the FCC’s ruling. We haven’t heard the last of the net neutrality debate, by any means.

To learn more about the details and potential consequences of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, check out these links:

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