What Losing Net Neutrality Could Mean for You

By Garry Grant

As of December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially rolled back net neutrality. In a 3-2 vote, the commission approved a proposal to get rid of the net neutrality rules that were put in place by the FCC in 2015.

This means Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Spectrum, Time Warner, and Comcast can manage their networks more aggressively and create preferred fast lanes for content. The vote also means it is more difficult to apply any regulatory pressure to Internet service providers because it removes the Title II classification that served as the basis for not neutrality regulations.

Opponents of the change argue that ISPs having complete freedom over who gets to see what and when will result in higher costs for both consumers and businesses. The FCC chairman and his supporters say that regulations on the ISPs hamper innovation in the future and the Internet was working fine before the 2015 rules. Consumers didn’t agree with this argument because the overwhelming majority of them opposed the repeal when they were surveyed.

What happens now? This new rule basically means there are no rules. It is now legal for ISPs to block, throttle, and require paid prioritization for people to access websites they know and love. At this point, we’re basically trusting our Internet service providers to handle things without oversight. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) however can still investigate service providers for anti-competitive prices but there’s a lot of gray area.

Since the ruling just came down moments ago, it’s too soon to say exactly what will happen for consumers and businesses. It’s likely a lawsuit will be filed against the FCC in the coming days. While the commission can change rules and regulations, it is not allowed to do so without good reason. These reasons cannot be arbitrary or purely political. In court, the FCC will have to justify the 2015 rules causing harm to the Internet. The large volume of fake public comments filed with the FCC that will likely be a focus of the lawsuit, too.

It’s possible for the courts to halt the repeal of net neutrality rules, but it may be months before the new regulations are finalized. Internet service providers are probably already making plans to implement new non-neutral services in the event that the FCC wins the court cases. Either way, it’s likely we won’t see any changes overnight.

What Non-Neutrality Could Look Like

In a non-neutrality scenario, you are Internet service provider is essentially regulating in saying if you want to pay us $50 a month you can have access to these websites. If you want to pay us a little bit more say a $100 a month, you can get access to all of these 2nd tier sites so you can visit and use those services. But if you want to pay as a $150 a month, you can get access to all websites. This, of course, is just one of the ways a non-neutrality situation can work. There are a bunch of …read more

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