FCC votes to enforce net neutrality by regulating ISPs, unleashes municipal broadband

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2015
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to regulate Internet service providers as "common carriers" under the Communications Act, preventing those companies from creating so-called "Internet fast lanes," and at the same time effectively neutered laws that impeded the expansion of city-owned broadband networks.




Internet providers will be required to increase transparency into operations and will not be permitted to block access to legal content, slow down or speed up specific traffic, or strike deals with content providers for faster access. The same rules will apply to both wired broadband and mobile data services.

Wednesday's decision was controversial, though somewhat inevitable, after President Obama called for such action late last year. As expected, it drew strong criticism from conservative commissioners, notably Commissioner Michael O'Rielly.

"Today the majority of the commission attempts to usurp the authority of congress by rewriting the Communications Act to suit its own values and political ends," O'Rielly said. He went on to pan nearly every facet of the new rules, calling them "guilt by imagination."

"Indeed, it seems that every bad idea ever floated in the name of net neutrality has come home to roost in this item," he added.

"I cannot support this monumental and unlawful power grab."
The move has been anticipated since November, when President Obama called for net neutrality regulation.
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn provided the most eloquent defense of the commission's action, recalling comments by civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis: "Every voice matters. We cannot let the interest of profit silence the voices of those pursuing dignity."

"We are here to ensure that there is only one internet, where application, new products, ideas and points of view have an equal chance of being heard," she added. "We are here because we want to enable those with deep pockets as well as those with empty pockets the same opportunities to succeed."

Sitting before the commission in support of the new rules were Chad Dickerson, the co-founder and CEO of Etsy, and Veena Sud, creator of television drama The Killing, which was saved from a premature death by Netflix. World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee weighed in via video.

The commission's vote is expected to bring a stampede of lawsuits from Internet service providers, particularly large telecommunications companies that have long opposed any federal involvement in the net neutrality debate.





Also during Wednesday's meeting, the commission voted to preempt state laws that prevented municipal broadband networks in North Carolina and Tennessee from expanding, paving the way for additional city-owned broadband networks. The Tennessee law restricted the geographic area in which municipal networks could operate, while the North Carolina provision prohibited those networks from undercutting private operators on price.

Commissioner Ajit Pai offered an extraordinary dissent, cautioning that the FCC's action could lead to "perverse consequences."

"This decision violates the constitutional principles that lie at the heart of our form of government," Pai said, reading from a statement. "The FCC treats Tennessee and North Carolina as mere appendages of the federal government, rather than the separate sovereigns that they are."

Chairman Wheeler responded strongly to Pai's lengthy speech and a similar dissent from Commissioner O'Rielly.

"You know, there are a few irrefutable truths about broadband," Wheeler nearly yelled. "One is, you can't say that you're for broadband and then turn around and endorse limits on who can offer it. Another is that you can't say I want to follow the explicit instructions of congress to, quote, remove barriers, the specific language congress has told us to do, to remove barriers to infrastructure investment."

"I think as they say in North Carolina, that dog don't hunt," he added.
«13456719

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 376
    The governments anti-freedom tactics can only lead to one thing. A new internet separate from the current one, causing the death of the old internet as we know it.
  • Reply 2 of 376
    Can't have information just floating around freely like that. I'm surprised the internet lasted this long.
  • Reply 3 of 376
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,249member
    Great news!
  • Reply 4 of 376
    so content providers cannot pay for fast lane but consumer can pay for fast access? I am confused. I would prefer FCC enact a minimum speed rule instead, say the slowest speed cannot be less than 80% of the fastest.
  • Reply 5 of 376
    davendaven Posts: 526member
    Bravo. Well done!
  • Reply 6 of 376

    Finally. That wasn't so hard now, was it?

  • Reply 7 of 376
    davendaven Posts: 526member
    mubaili wrote: »
    so content providers cannot pay for fast lane but consumer can pay for fast access? I am confused. I would prefer FCC enact a minimum speed rule instead, say the slowest speed cannot be less than 80% of the fastest.

    Not quite. When a consumer pays for a fast lane it should be a fast lane for whatever content that consumer selects. Not fast for some sites and slow for others. In other words, require that the consumer gets what they pay for.
  • Reply 8 of 376

    So this is how the Internet dies, then. Well, we had a good run. I guess.

     

    Pro tip: when the people who are legally required to work for you refuse to show you the contents of the laws by which you’ll be forced to abide, they are not working for you.

  • Reply 9 of 376
    davendaven Posts: 526member
    bobborries wrote: »
    The governments anti-freedom tactics can only lead to one thing. A new internet separate from the current one, causing the death of the old internet as we know it.

    So requiring that a company be upfront with customers and giving them what they pay for is somehow 'anti-freedom'? Or that negating ISP-sponsored laws prohibiting municipalities from offering their citizens internet service like they do water and sometimes power and garbage collection is anti-American? Sheesh!
  • Reply 10 of 376
    davendaven Posts: 526member
    sog35 wrote: »
    What does this mean for the average consumer?

    An excuse for your ISP to raise prices in the short term instead of giving you less bandwidth than you pay for.
  • Reply 11 of 376

    Wake up everyone.  This is not a good thing for the consumer.  Assuming this ruling makes it through the courts, which is a big assumption, you will see new taxes on your cable/internet bill.  The average consumer can expect to pay an additional $115 per year in taxes to the federal government.

  • Reply 12 of 376
    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

    What does this mean for the average consumer?

     

    Well, this.

     

     I find a certain degree of irony in entrusting the FCC to uphold freedom of speech on the internet.



    The same FCC that fines radio stations $100,000 every time someone utters a curse word.

    The same FCC that censors television.

    The same FCC that has been slapped down OVER, and OVER, and OVER, and OVER again by the Supreme Court for violating the First Amendment of the Constitution.

    The same FCC that is refusing to allow the public to even SEE these regulations - that are so good for you and I - until AFTER they have been passed

    The same FCC that is staffed by a laundry list of former Comcast and media execs.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • Reply 13 of 376

    Yes! A win for freedom and ensuring a chance of success by future tech startups.

  • Reply 14 of 376

    Here come the astroturfing trolls and Obama haters.

  • Reply 15 of 376

    Actually it guarantees freedom of speech!

     

    Your ISP cannot restrict your freedom of speech or prevent you from hearing someone else's speech.

     

    This allows all developers and users the same free access we have had from the beginning of the internet and it will not allow ISP's from deciding what you can and cannot access.

  • Reply 16 of 376

    <Tallest Skil> Sooo you want to leave it in the hands of a monopolistic ISP's to decide what you can and cannot see/hear?

     

    Ya that'll be in our best interest!   NOT!

  • Reply 17 of 376

    I almost forgot that big monopolistic corporations that only have their bottom line as a consideration are people too!

    </sarcasm>

  • Reply 18 of 376
    Originally Posted by krreagan View Post

    <Tallest Skil> Sooo you want to leave it in the hands of a monopolistic ISP's to decide what you can and cannot see/hear?

     

    Try. Again.

     

    Originally Posted by krreagan View Post

    Your ISP cannot restrict your freedom of speech or prevent you from hearing someone else's speech.


     

    1. Sure thing. /s

    2. Because that’s the government’s job now!

  • Reply 19 of 376
    Tragic. I am an attorney who practices administrative law for a living. Anyone who thinks this will not be a tragic cacophony of unexpected consequences is, quite frankly, not even qualified to weigh in on the issue.
  • Reply 20 of 376
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    mubaili wrote: »
    so content providers cannot pay for fast lane but consumer can pay for fast access? I am confused. I would prefer FCC enact a minimum speed rule instead, say the slowest speed cannot be less than 80% of the fastest.

    Are providers paying more out of choice or is it blackmail by the ISPs? As for the consumer, if you are willing to pay more you can use more electricity. Is there a difference? Same for the providers. Use more pay more.

    The last point would only make "affordable" Internet impossible. The minimum price would go up astronomically.
Sign In or Register to comment.