It’s been in the news for a while, and was even trending on Facebook and Twitter yesterday afternoon. It’s something that can have an effect on all of us, yet you may not understand exactly what it means. On February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission voted by a 3-2 margin to adopt net neutrality regulations.
What’s Net Neutrality?
Basically, net neutrality, sometimes referred to as “open internet”, is the idea that all legal internet content and applications (such as video and audio streaming) should be provided to users equally, without limitations on speed for the purpose of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or content provider’s benefit.
Can I still plan on binge watching Netflix this weekend?
The new net neutrality regulations mean that you, as the consumer, won’t be affected by business deals between ISPs and content providers, like Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. Without these regulations, your ISP would have been able to force a content provider, such as Netflix, and require Netflix to pay them (the ISP) more money or risk having their service slowed when consumers tried to access it. So, thanks to net neutrality, major ISPs can’t throttle the delivery of services to consumers, which means you can watch as much Netflix as you want without worrying about whether your internet provider can alter the delivery of your favorite shows.
What’s the debate, then?
Content providers support net neutrality regulations, as they believe consumers are already paying for internet service, so they should have content delivered to them equally and at the same quality across the board. Many large ISPs worry that the FCC will over-regulate their business. The FCC voted to reclassify broadband internet service as a “telecommunications service under Title II”, which treats the service as a public utility, giving the FCC more opportunity for regulation.
Why did the FCC have to vote?
In 2010, the FCC passed net neutrality rules in an effort to keep broadband service and the internet neutral. However, Verizon contested the rules in January of 2014, and it was determined by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the FCC did not have the necessary power to regulate broadband, and therefore could not issue said rules. By reclassifying broadband internet service as a public utility, the FCC can now institute the net neutrality regulations legally.
What’s BridgeMAXX have to do with it?
As a small internet service provider, BridgeMAXX couldn’t compete with the major broadband carriers if they were allowed to prioritize content. If our providers charged us more money, we would have to pass the fees onto the consumer, which isn’t good for anyone. Larger broadband companies could charge the content provider when costs rise, by basically holding their service ransom. BridgeMAXX believes in delivering quality internet service to its customers without restrictions.
The new regulations will be available for viewing in the Federal Register in a few weeks. The regulations become effective 30 days after publication, and while they are rather lengthy, there are three main points that affect consumers:
- Blocking: ISPs cannot block legal content, applications, services, or other harmless information, or restrict their customers from reaching this content.
- Throttling: ISPs are not allowed to alter or throttle the delivery of specific content, applications or services to consumers, and can’t degrade their traffic to certain services over another. This doesn’t affect contract limitation throttling or data plans.
- Prioritization: “Fast Lanes” are not allowed, as ISPs can’t play favorites with certain content providers, meaning internet traffic cannot be altered in regards to certain services. Also, ISPs can’t make the content and services of their affiliates easier to access by deprioritizing other services.
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