US Regulator Votes of Go Ahead with Controversial Net Neutrality Plans
Published on: 15th May 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
The US telecoms regulator has decided to proceed with new rules about internet traffic despite widespread protests that it undermines the principle of Net Neutrality.
Protestors have argued that the new rules, which allow ISPs to charge content providers for prioritise delivery to consumers could lead to a two-tier internet service where big firms can price smaller ones out of business.
The protestors want the connections to be traffic agnostic -- essentially dumb pipes -- that deliver content equally regardless of the content provider, or the user.
An open meeting of the FCC commissioners was repeatedly interrupted by protestors, as they sought to explain their views before voting in favour of the new regulations.
The plans are themselves the result of a lawsuit filed earlier this year to overturn the Net Neutrality rules that the FCC had advocated. That ruling said that the regulator was not able to block Verizon from charging a fee for carrying data across its network.
As a consequence, faced with a legal barrier to upholding Net Neutrality, the regulaotr proposed a rule that would ban ISPs from downgrading a service, but would permit them to offer a premium service to those willing to pay for it.
Indeed, many content providers already pay a premium to speed up the delivery of the content, in the form of localising data centres closer to the end-user to reduce transit delays, and hosting services in distributed CDNs.
However, once the content left the server, it was as reliant on the same dumb-pipe as everyone else, and that principle is the one that was overturned by today's ruling.
Campaigners are now working to have ISPs classified as utilities providers, which in the USA would allow them to come under heavier regulation, and could in theory, then permit the FCC to reassert its original proposal, to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.