Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

FCC moves forward with plan that could slow internet service

Federal Communication Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai speaks during an open hearing and vote on FCC moves forward with plan that could slow internet service
Conrad Doyle | 19 May, 2017, 14:56

The process to overhaul how the Internet is regulated is now officially underway.

Federal Communications Commission or FCC under the Obama Administration passed Open Internet rules.

The FCC now begins a months-long process of deliberation over the Open Internet Order, and we should expect plenty of fervent campaigning from both stances.

The final set of rules will likely be presented this fall after the public comment period has ended.

FCC chairperson Ajit Pai wants the commission to repeal the rules that reclassified internet service providers (ISPs) as utility companies.

During the Obama Administration, prior chairman Tom Wheeler opted for Title II regulation upon a federal appellate court's decision that the FCC had exceeded its authority in issuing rules meant to require broadband providers like AT&T and Verizon to treat internet traffic equally. The existing regulations make it illegal for Verizon to speed up its own streaming video site while slowing down competitors like Netflix, for example.

Pai said the FCC's rules give regulators too much control over the Internet and have led to reduced investment in broadband networks - a point net neutrality supporters dispute.

Of course, any type of regulations that set aside the rules of net neutrality are nearly certain to be challenged in court.

"If you unequivocally trust that your broadband provider will always put the public interest over their self-interest or the interest of their stockholders, then (this proposal) is for you". Those regulations now enable the agency to prevent internet service providers from favoring some websites and services over others.

Internet service providers insist they will not engage in blocking or throttling even in the absence of rules, but critics are skeptical. "It will take millions of people standing up ... to say that the Internet needs to stay free and open". "Nonetheless, the FCC that year succumbed to partisan pressure from the White House and changed course". The FCC later claimed it was a DDoS attack.

That's certainly what net neutrality proponents hope.

As of now, the details surrounding Pai's plan are vague, but the implications are clear.

For his part, Pai insists that the reaction to net neutrality is overblown, saying that the internet was fine prior to 2015.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, applauded the action.

The initial vote comes before the FCC is fully staffed with five commissioners. Two seats are now empty.

"We think it's worth fighting for", Beckerman said. This was a serious mistake that threatens innovation and investment in this important segment of the US economy.

The rules, which were put in place just two years ago under previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, ensure that internet service providers can't discriminate between different kinds of content being sent over your internet connection. "We finally have an FCC chairman who recognizes that we live in a new era - an era of smartphones and laptops and other mobile devices - a chairman who believes that innovation, ingenuity, growth, and job creation aren't dirty words to be stifled with unnecessary red tape", McConnell said in an emailed statement. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly who previously dissented on the rule change voted in favor of it Thursday.

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