The FCC voted 3-to-2 to create a series of sweeping changes [to the Communications Act], including three open Internet conduct rules that block broadband providers, both wired and wireless, from blocking or throttling Internet traffic. The rules also ban broadband providers from taking payments to prioritize content and services over their networks. – —PC Mag
Last week, advocates of net neutrality have achieved a huge win; which has been brewing for quite a while now. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission), in a landmark judgment, has approved Net Neutrality. It states that internet service providers (ISPs)—wireless and wired—are public utilities and, as such, the federal government has the right to regulate and is obliged to force providers to abide by the rules stipulated under the federal law.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally. That means network providers cannot discriminate between various websites because of business deals. For example, a high-profile website shouldn’t get to pay to reach customers faster than a start-up.
Net Neutrality is also supported by the people involved in the earlier growth of the Internet, who termed it as a “secret sauce”, which innovated research, revolutionized connectivity and helped new start-ups to propel themselves into the blogosphere; and not monopolizing the space by big corporations.
Is it just US or?
The first country to shape net neutrality into law is Chile, in the year 2010. Next came Netherlands. This small kingdom comprising of 16 million people jumped on the net neutrality bandwagon when it banned telephone operators who charged extra or blocked consumers for browsing Internet services. Also, South Korea has also altered it legislation to accommodate free internet laws. In 2012, it prevented operators from providing network security and stability to few consumers without proper justification.
With the emergence of video-streaming, sites like YouTube and Netflix started to get popular. These websites took over larger bandwidths, pushing the providers to manipulate traffic.( In this case, Netflix signing private traffic deals with providers Comcast and Verizon for direct access to its website and improved reception of its content by the customers.)
By 2010, the FCC enacted open Internet rules, but Verizon (a US-based ISP) approached the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It ruled that “the FCC did not have the authority to impose the order in its entirety” and the rules were struck down by the court.
The FCC now regulates internet like a public utility. That means whichever ISP you chose must provide appropriate connectivity as listed under the FCC’s guidelines. Reclassifying internet service under the 1934 Communications Act will enable FCC to authorize legal investigations, in case of consumer complaints or service dissatisfaction.
Also, it has removed some section of the law which regulate price control and subjection of pre-approvals.
The Other Side
Republicans tend to hate everything espoused by Obama, except fighting never-ending wars and supporting Israel. Verizon, Comcast, AT&T are all against these regulations. These companies are likely to file petitions to block the implementations of FCC’s new laws.
Oh! And then there’s John Oliver
It all started on a 30-min politico-comedy show, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. On June 1st, 2014, during his 13-min Net Neutrality monologue, he snapped at FCC’s decision to hiring former cable company lobbyist, Tom Wheeler and likened it to “needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.” Oliver warned “Our government looks set to end net neutrality,” and urged viewers to take action as FCC was taking comments on rules at that time.
It worked. “By Monday, the FCC’s commenting system had stopped working, thanks to more than 45,000 new comments on net neutrality likely sparked by Oliver,” the Washington Post reported. John Oliver hasn’t discussed much after that broadcast, but Tom Wheeler did. When asked what he thought of the segment at a court hearing. “You know… I would like to state for the record that I’m not a dingo,” replied sarcastically.
The video has more than 8 million views to date.
Where do we stand?
Coming to India, as per 2014, there are no laws controlling net neutrality in India. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is yet to form proper guidelines, but there have been some violations in the past.
As listed out by Medianama, without net neutrality operators can:
1. Harm consumer rights: You will end up being charged extra for something that you are already paying for.
2. Harm competition: Our telecom operators are big companies that are expanding every day. They have their own services that they can benefit. Imagine Airtel offering its Hike messenger for free but charging extra for all other free messaging services. They may then charge other apps.
Also in India, it more about the cost of accessibility rather than the speed. It is because we don’t maintain fast or slow lanes; they are all slow.