It feels like we’ve taken a three-year step back with Ajit Pai’s push as head of the FCC to repeal the 2015 Net Neutrality laws that classified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as public utility companies. We’ve been here before fighting for a free and open Internet without restrictions or shackled with “premium preference” pay structures. As much as the Comcast’s, AT&T’s, Verizon’s of the world say they would never create a fast lane/slow lane network structure, I call bullshit on that because there was a time decades ago that “cable” television didn’t have commercials because it was a PAID service. If there is revenue to be had, no one is above reproach if it means they’ll get more of it. Do you really think that there won’t be a gradual shift to things like a Premium Streaming package for $3.99/mo extra for HD content with the people not paying up relegated to throttled bandwidth that yields only standard definition on a good day? The repeal of the 2015 rules cannot be allowed to go through.
Wikipedia defines, at a high level, “…the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”
The rules proposed in 2014 by a then Democratically controlled FCC, hotly protested by ISPs, then passed in 2015 put the ISPs into a regulated structure being classified as a public utility. A public utility is heavily regulated to ensure fairness and equal access to all, and since 2015 ISPs were treated in a similar fashion as gas, electricity and water companies. As expected, anyone who isn’t an ISP is in opposition to the proposal from the FCC and anyone who is an ISP is in support of the proposal. Comcast and AT&T have both issued public statements indicating that regardless of the 2015 rules, they didn’t throttle certain traffic despite both being caught doing just that in the past. Comcast was caught limiting P2P traffic like BitTorrent and AT&T was limiting FaceTime traffic except for those with shared data family plans.
Ajit Pai has commented that the proposal to repeal the 2015 rules is being made to encourage job growth and investment into broadband infrastructure. Any logical individual can see past the smoke and mirrors and realize that Pai is in bed with the lobbies paid for by the ISPs that have pushed this repeal down the throats of Americans. Cable television didn’t have commercials when it was first introduced. Now there are 10 minutes of commercials in a 30 minute episode slot. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon threaten the revenue the ISPs (who are typically also cable content providers) get from consumers paying for cable television. Cord cutting was the eventual outcome when you drown your customers in commercials. Now with the 2015 net neutrality rules at risk of being repealed, the very Internet that we’ve come to know and love is potentially becoming a sea of subscription services. I have nightmares about the day we could order Internet content similar to an order at McDonalds: I’ll take 50Mbps, Netflix and Hulu…. and a 5GB side of Spotify.
I don’t know a single person that looks forward to commercials or is happy to pay for HBO, Cinemax, Netflix or Hulu just to get away from commercials. Access to the Internet should not come with the requirement to purchase extras just to have the same level of bandwidth for BitTorrent, World of Warcraft or HD content streaming. Americans already pay the most for Internet access and mobile phone contracts, why the hell would we allow our government and the agencies they control do something as nefarious as taking away our raw bandwidth access to the Internet? Last time I checked we’re not in China or North Korea, but repealing the 2015 net neutrality rules is putting us on that path.
Get involved, make a comment in opposition for the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Proposal. What a completely ridiculous name for the proposal as it would remove all the freedom we ALREADY have on the Internet.
Taking 5 minutes to make a comment matters!