FCC votes to restore net neutrality protections in the United States

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in General Discussion

In an entirely expected move, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to reinstate net neutrality protections in the United States.

FCC seal
FCC seal



The vote on Thursday was on the final form of net neutrality rules, following a previous vote on bringing back the rules in October.

The latest vote was 3-2 in favor of restoration, with Democratic commissioners voting in favor and Republican counterparts against the change.



The FCC vote is the latest in the Commission's story in the years-long net neutrality saga. The latest vote restores the requirement that Internet providers manage traffic equally regardless of the source or user.

"Four years ago the pandemic changed life as we know it. We were told to stay home, hunker down, and live online," said FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel at the time of the vote.

"It became clear that no matter who you are or where you live, you need broadband to have a fair shot at digital age success," she continued. "It went from nice-to-have to need-to-have for everyone, everywhere."

"Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services - the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life - have some basic oversight."

The long road away from Fast Lanes



Under the Obama administration and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC voted to introduce net neutrality rules in 2015. The vote meant that internet services would be regulated as "common carriers" under the Communications Act," and end paid-for "internet fast lanes."

During the tenure of Donald Trump, FCC chair Ajit Pai worked to rescind those same protections, under the guise of "Restoring Internet Freedom." While there were protests and urging by tech companies, including Apple, to reconsider, the FCC voted in 2017 to remove those rules.

The Restoring Internet Freedom order came into force on June 11.

Following the removal of the protections, various attempts were made to restore them, including Senate votes and a law in California. The 2019 "Save the Internet" bill was a prominent attempt that failed to make traction.

After a net neutrality lawsuit against Mozilla, the FCC was legally required to ask for comments from the public on the matter. Comments in favor of net neutrality were largely ignored by the FCC, due to the request being a legal formality.

Despite being voted into the White House and in power since the end of 2020, the Biden administration could not bring back net neutrality in its first three years, until the FCC came under majority Democrat control in October.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    When net neutrality was repealed, Democrats said all kinds of dire things would happen: prices would go up. Some areas would not be able to get internet. Dogs would mate with cats...

    Investment and access to high-speed Internet surged. By the end of 2019, 94% of Americans had access to high-speed fixed and mobile broadband, up from 77% in 2015. In 2022 broadband builders laid more than 400,000 route miles of fiber, more than 50% more than in 2016.

    Prices fell with more competition. A study by Casey Mulligan and Phil Kerpenfor the Committee to Unleash Prosperity found that, from September 2017 to September 2023, the price index for wired internet services fell 11% compared to the overall consumer-price index. The CPI for wireless fell 21% in real terms. The biggest winners from this price decline were low-income households, which pay a higher share of their earnings on broadband.

    Restoring "net neutrality" will actually slow the installation of 5G systems and protect monopolies while giving the FCC the power to monitor internet content.

    dewmewilliamlondonh2pbeowulfschmidttimpetusOctoMonkeyrandominternetperson
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Steve HumistonSteve Humiston Posts: 21unconfirmed, member

    Tampering with speeds

    • Sprint is slowing traffic to Skype, which is owned by its competitor, Microsoft.
    • The largest telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from popular apps like YouTube and Netflix.

    Playing favorites with data caps

    • AT&T is openly advertising that cellular customers can stream the company’s DirecTV Now product without it counting against monthly data caps. Meanwhile, all of the competing video services like Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, Netflix, or Amazon Prime count against AT&T data caps — and video can quickly chew through a monthly data plan’s download allotment. AT&T’s behavior is almost a pure textbook example of why net neutrality rules were put into place — to stop ISPs from putting competitor’s products at a disadvantage. AT&T is the biggest cellular provider in the country and this creates a huge advantage for DirecTV Now. All of the major cellular carriers are doing something similar in allowing some video to not count against the monthly data cap, but AT&T is the only one pushing their own product.

    Throttling bandwidth and network traffic

    • A study led by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that internet service providers are “giving a fixed amount of bandwidth — typically something in the range of one and a half megabits per second to four megabits per second — to video traffic, but they don’t impose these limits on other network traffic.” This slowing down of internet speeds is called throttling, and according to researcher Dave Choffnes, “nearly every U.S. cell phone provider” is doing it.
    • Verizon has been throttling County Fire, the fire department charged with responding to California wildfires. “This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services,” says Fire Chief Anthony Bowden. “Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services.”

    Orchestrating “free” giveaways

    • Verizon FiOS recently began giving free Netflix for a year to new broadband customers. AT&T also started giving out free HBO to new customers last year. This practice is more subtle than the cellular carrier practice of blocking or throttling content. One of the purposes of net neutrality was for ISPs to not discriminate against web traffic. By giving away free video services, the landline broadband companies are promoting specific web services over competitors. Smaller, start up ISP providers who don’t have large media services to give away for free are placed at a disadvantage, even though their cost or service may be superior.

    The digital divide between those with broadband internet access and those without — disproportionately people of color, rural, and low-income — has never been more stark than it has been during the pandemic, as schools, health care providers, jobs, and other everyday necessities have moved online. As such, broadband access has rightly been a focal point of the American Jobs Plan and the latest COVID relief package. But we need to talk about what broadband access really means. If ISPs are dictating what content we can access, then a subscription to broadband service is considerably less meaningful. To fulfill its purpose, the internet must remain free and open. That means we need to restore net neutrality now.

    IT'S ABOUT TIME.. and hopefully that'll help streaming services... they are being slowly eaten into 1 company ... i liked when I had choices.


    OferdavMisterKitdewmeVictorMortimerh2pkingofsomewherehotAppleZulubeowulfschmidtAlex_V
  • Reply 3 of 12
    neillwdneillwd Posts: 47member
    More government more censorship less freedom.
    mrstepwilliamlondonh2ptimpetusOctoMonkey
  • Reply 4 of 12
    zompzomp Posts: 63member
    It is shame that At&T and Verizon have played the old school game. T-mobile on the other hand does not have data caps and most everything you listed, and their overall service has out performed Verizon, that was a surprise to me. At&T, in my opinion, they live by and old set of internal views and old hardcore sales people.







    Steve Humiston said:

    Tampering with speeds

    • Sprint is slowing traffic to Skype, which is owned by its competitor, Microsoft.
    • The largest telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from popular apps like YouTube and Netflix.

    Playing favorites with data caps

    • AT&T is openly advertising that cellular customers can stream the company’s DirecTV Now product without it counting against monthly data caps. Meanwhile, all of the competing video services like Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, Netflix, or Amazon Prime count against AT&T data caps — and video can quickly chew through a monthly data plan’s download allotment. AT&T’s behavior is almost a pure textbook example of why net neutrality rules were put into place — to stop ISPs from putting competitor’s products at a disadvantage. AT&T is the biggest cellular provider in the country and this creates a huge advantage for DirecTV Now. All of the major cellular carriers are doing something similar in allowing some video to not count against the monthly data cap, but AT&T is the only one pushing their own product.

    Throttling bandwidth and network traffic

    • A study led by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that internet service providers are “giving a fixed amount of bandwidth — typically something in the range of one and a half megabits per second to four megabits per second — to video traffic, but they don’t impose these limits on other network traffic.” This slowing down of internet speeds is called throttling, and according to researcher Dave Choffnes, “nearly every U.S. cell phone provider” is doing it.
    • Verizon has been throttling County Fire, the fire department charged with responding to California wildfires. “This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services,” says Fire Chief Anthony Bowden. “Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services.”

    Orchestrating “free” giveaways

    • Verizon FiOS recently began giving free Netflix for a year to new broadband customers. AT&T also started giving out free HBO to new customers last year. This practice is more subtle than the cellular carrier practice of blocking or throttling content. One of the purposes of net neutrality was for ISPs to not discriminate against web traffic. By giving away free video services, the landline broadband companies are promoting specific web services over competitors. Smaller, start up ISP providers who don’t have large media services to give away for free are placed at a disadvantage, even though their cost or service may be superior.

    The digital divide between those with broadband internet access and those without — disproportionately people of color, rural, and low-income — has never been more stark than it has been during the pandemic, as schools, health care providers, jobs, and other everyday necessities have moved online. As such, broadband access has rightly been a focal point of the American Jobs Plan and the latest COVID relief package. But we need to talk about what broadband access really means. If ISPs are dictating what content we can access, then a subscription to broadband service is considerably less meaningful. To fulfill its purpose, the internet must remain free and open. That means we need to restore net neutrality now.

    IT'S ABOUT TIME.. and hopefully that'll help streaming services... they are being slowly eaten into 1 company ... i liked when I had choices.



  • Reply 5 of 12
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,377member
    [bought-and-paid-for propaganda]
    Wow, I hope the cheque cleared for your advertorial. Would be interested to know who you work for.

    “Tool” isn’t just the name of a band.
    williamlondonVictorMortimerkingofsomewherehotdavAlex_V
  • Reply 6 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,930member
    When net neutrality was repealed, Democrats said all kinds of dire things would happen: prices would go up. Some areas would not be able to get internet. Dogs would mate with cats...

    Investment and access to high-speed Internet surged. By the end of 2019, 94% of Americans had access to high-speed fixed and mobile broadband, up from 77% in 2015. In 2022 broadband builders laid more than 400,000 route miles of fiber, more than 50% more than in 2016.

    Prices fell with more competition. A study by Casey Mulligan and Phil Kerpenfor the Committee to Unleash Prosperity found that, from September 2017 to September 2023, the price index for wired internet services fell 11% compared to the overall consumer-price index. The CPI for wireless fell 21% in real terms. The biggest winners from this price decline were low-income households, which pay a higher share of their earnings on broadband.

    Restoring "net neutrality" will actually slow the installation of 5G systems and protect monopolies while giving the FCC the power to monitor internet content.

     I don’t know anything about a competition argument, but carriers can be dumb pipes as well as competitive.
    williamlondonVictorMortimerdav
  • Reply 7 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,930member
    neillwd said:
    More government more censorship less freedom.
    Trade off in all things. Carrier freedom to discriminate packets based on customer tier means less consumer freedom elsewhere. 
    williamlondonVictorMortimerdavilarynxheinzel
  • Reply 8 of 12
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 516member
    neillwd said:
    More government more censorship less freedom.
    I suspect that the majority of "net neutrality" advocates are quite comfortable with government directly - and working hand-in-hand with these same tech companies and carriers - to remove non-government-approved information.
    williamlondonh2ptimpetusOctoMonkey
  • Reply 9 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,930member
    Without NN, ISPs can charge different websites different prices to deliver their traffic to end users.  

    “Net neutrality means that ISPs don’t get to speed up or slow down your web traffic based on what site you’re visiting. The FCC understood this in 2015, yet left the door open for the creation of fast lanes in their new rules.”

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2024/04/fcc-must-clarify-its-rules-prevent-loopholes-will-swallow-net-neutrality-whole
    VictorMortimerilarynxdav
  • Reply 10 of 12
    When net neutrality was repealed, Democrats said.... Dogs would mate with cats...
    Well, I haven't seen Fido mount Snowball, but I do recollect a dog-cow.  That was decades ago, though!
  • Reply 11 of 12
    Alex_VAlex_V Posts: 225member
    mrstep said:
    neillwd said:
    More government more censorship less freedom.
    I suspect that the majority of "net neutrality" advocates are quite comfortable with government directly - and working hand-in-hand with these same tech companies and carriers - to remove non-government-approved information.
    And I “suspect” that freedom in the USA is code for white privileged. Like how the Southern States fought for freedom in the Civil War. Which is why the FCC Republicans named it “internet freedom.” You’d think that such a blatant and transparent attempt to white wash capitalist monopoly legislation paid for by their sponsors would obviously fail. But no, the freedom-craving voters lap that stuff up. 
    paisleydisco
  • Reply 12 of 12
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,068member
    mrstep said:
    neillwd said:
    More government more censorship less freedom.
    I suspect that the majority of "net neutrality" advocates are quite comfortable with government directly - and working hand-in-hand with these same tech companies and carriers - to remove non-government-approved information.
    I suspect that the "non-government-approved information" referenced here is disinformation that actually is government approved, just not by the US government. 
    Alex_V
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