Net Neutrality Repealed; Local Business Owner Explains What Will Happen Next

Ruben Fields
June 13, 2018

The new internet rules came into effect on Monday in the US after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the 2015 Obama administration's much publicised net neutrality rules in December by a 3-2 vote. ISPs will be under the scanner of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will be able to investigate if internet providers engage in anti-competitive behavior.

E-commerce startups have feared that they could end up on the losing end of paid prioritization, with their websites and services loading more slowly than those run by internet behemoths. They're anxious the providers will charge consumers extra to reach particular sites and services in a speedy manner, either by directly billing them or by charging companies like Netflix, which could be expected to pass on the costs to their subscribers.

What's more, internet advocates have always been concerned that if broadband providers are able to create so-called fast lanes to particular sites and services, they will in effect slow down traffic to all other locations on the internet.

Now, all that is legal as long as companies post their policies online.

The battle isn't entirely over, though.

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Without Net Neutrality, internet providers can pick and choose which sites they grant access to and at which speeds, opening the door to censorship. Most have service terms that specify they won't give preferential treatment to certain websites and services, including their own. He says small business owners like Black, who sells 99% of his product online, could end up losing customers to these large corporations if they pay for a faster website.

Q. What were the net neutrality rules? But companies are likely to start testing the boundaries over the next six months to a year. Last month, the Senate passed a last-ditch effort to overturn the FCC's repeal, but it never progressed to a House vote and was officially repealed Monday.

"Following the FCC's decision, network investment fell by billions of dollars - the first time that had happened outside of a recession in the broadband era", Pai continues, a statistic that comes from a study using "corrupted, made-up data" and which disagrees with the evidence from public SEC filings, which show telecoms investment up 5.3% since the 2015 Open Internet Order. Consumer groups have charged that when zero-rating plans are used to promote services owned by the broadband providers, or by companies that pay the providers to market them, they are akin to fast lanes. Tech companies such as Netflix, Spotify and Snap echoed similar concerns in regulatory filings. Its chairman has long argued against the rules, pointing out that before they were put into effect in 2015, service providers had not engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited. For instance, they might charge more to view high-resolution "4K" video, while offering lower-quality video for free.

More than 20 states sued the government to stop the repeal, as did the public-interest group Free Press and the think tank Open Technology Institute and Firefox browser maker Mozilla.

Twenty-nine states have since introduced legislation, proposing reinstating some aspects of Net Neutrality. In a phone interview, Hansen told me that during the bill's hearings, even the giant cable companies said they agree with the principles of net neutrality.

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