The internet has been a frenzy of fear and anger over the FCC’s recent net neutrality plan. Although the proposal is still up for a commission vote sometime this summer, it hasn’t stopped the public outcry. The new plan, intended to replace the existing open Internet order from 2010, is perceived as a way for big companies to get richer and more powerful.
The idea behind net neutrality is that Internet service providers have to treat all online websites and services equally, in terms of reach and speed. Nothing should have preferential treatment. The looming concern about the new proposed plan is underscored by Netflix’s recent deal with Comcast. Comcast subscribers attempting to stream video through their Netflix accounts were receiving poor performance. All it took was some money passed from Netflix to Comcast to flip that switch for faster, better-performing streaming rates.
Despite all the heat and outrage, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t backing down on his rules proposal. However, he has stated that he supports net neutrality and that he won’t allow an Internet ‘slow lane’ to happen. Wheeler indicates that the focus on a ‘fast lane’ has led to assumptions that non-priority traffic will choke.
Wheeler has brought up the threat of defining ISPs like utility companies to prevent manipulation. That, in itself, is slightly encouraging. But we still don’t know what “sufficiently robust” will look like in terms of access to Internet content under the new proposed rules. Regardless, many still think this is just more smoke blowing.
The new rules are expected to become public sometime after the May 15 FCC discussion meeting. So there’s still some time to sharpen pitchforks and make torches, just in case.