The FCC repeal of net neutrality rules - what it potentially means for you.

The FCC repeal of net neutrality rules - what it potentially means for you.

Written by Diane Ware - December 19, 2017 in Computers

First of all, to summarize quickly, net neutrality basically comes down to a dispute between Internet infrastructure and high-level Internet content providers.  

In other words, a dispute between Internet infrastructure major players, such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, and high-level Internet content providers, such as Google, Youtube, Facebook, and Netflix.  

Internet infrastructure encompasses the broadband cables and other devices, like routers, servers, switches, etc., which move digital ones and zeros, the basis of all computing, from source to destination. So when you access a web page and then want to download a file, it has to travel through all the necessary cable lines and devices to get this accomplished for you.  

And this setup was going fairly smoothly, early on in the Internet's lifespan, such as in the 1980s and 1990s, until later on, particularly in the early 2000s, when larger files and other content, such as videos, needed to take up more bandwidth from the cable lines to get the job done. The main infrastructure suppliers, such as Comcast, expected more money from the content providers, such as Netflix, because they would have to accommodate the greater bandwidth needs of Netflix.  

Net neutrality, as it is known today, was originally pushed forward by President Obama and the Democratic party, via the FCC (Federal Communications Commision), on February 26, 2015, and then went into full effect on June 12, 2015. It is known as Title II Net Neutrality Rules.  

The intent of these net neutrality rules is to treat all data that is accessed over the Internet as the same. But, in effect, it is forcing infrastructure companies to comply even though they will need to make changes with their infrastructure to accommodate the extra bandwidth. Actually, though, Google and Verizon originally proposed an idea that "would allow discrimination based on the type of data, but would prohibit ISPs from targeting individual organizations or websites". So, for instance, video and streaming websites that require far more bandwidth usage than most other web pages would be treated the same. In other words, Youtube and Vimeo, along with all other websites that supply videos, could be included in certain Internet service packages for those customers wanting more than just regular websites. However, this idea was discarded. Instead, the proposal finally came down to all types of data, whether file downloads or uploads, photos, videos, or streaming live videos, to be considered the same, no matter how much bandwidth they required.  

But though this may be more of a burden on the Internet infrastructure companies, a lot of the big content providers like Google and Facebook do pay ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to setup up peering and CDNs, both of which can allow faster access to their web sites, either through direct connections between the content providers and the ISPs or by taking copies of content provider web pages and placing them on local servers within the ISPs' buildings. Already, even before the net neutrality ruling in 2015, these types of arrangements were being implemented.  

Well, then, what does this all mean? The main worry at the moment is that because net neutrality is no longer in effect, ISPs, especially Comcast could now create packages. I.e., you just want to visit news sites, business pages, and blog or forums? Then pay $49.99 a month. But if you want to watch lots of videos, stream Netflix, and/or download lots of big files, then you need to choose the $79.99 package a month.  

Example:

example packages

But there is speculation that this will not happen, because ISPs will find out rather quickly that another form of accessing the Internet will arise (such as only via phone services, which many people already use anyway), or some other new technology will be born to give people access to the Internet. Or, if a monopoly arises, the federal government could step in with eminent domain laws.  

These two articles give some better insight into the details of net neutrality:  

10 Reason Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality 

Why Concerns About Net Neutrality Are Overblown 

 

This Wikipedia article gives a quick summary of the significant events that led toward net neutrality:  

  • January 12, 2003 – Law Professor Tim Wu coins phrase Net Neutrality while discussing “competing contents and applications.” [146] 

  • June 27, 2005 – Supreme Court decides that “communications, content, and applications are allowed to pass freely over the Internet's broadband pipes”[147] 

  • September 1, 2007 – Comcast begins interfering with Bittorrent traffic on its network.[148][149] 

  • January 9, 2008 – FCC investigates Comcast traffic policy and treatment of Bittorrent traffic [150] 

  • August 9, 2010 – Google and Verizon try to cut deal to make larger parts of internet to be exempt from protection from the net neutrality rules from the FCC [151] 

  • December 21, 2010 – FCC creates Open Internet Rules which “established high-level rules requiring transparency and prohibiting blocking and unreasonable discrimination to protect Internet openness”.[152] 

  • September 23, 2011 – The Federal Register publishes the Open Internet Rules[153] 

  • May 13, 2014 – FCC releases new proposal including new rules on allowing “fast lanes and slow lanes online”[154] 

  • June 13, 2014 – FCC investigates large companies such as Netflix for interconnection policies [155] 

  • July 15, 2014 – FCC opens up on Public Knowledge for public comments, received 1.1 million comments on the first day. Determined that "less than 1% of comments were clearly opposed to net neutrality." [156][157] 

  • September 15, 2014 – FCC receives 3.7 million comments in total. “The FCC's server crashes again as millions more people, companies, and advocacy organizations weigh in on the open internet rules.”[158] 

  • February 26, 2015 – FCC passes the Title II Net Neutrality Rules. “In a 3–2 party-line vote, the FCC passes open internet rules applying to both wired and wireless internet connections grounded in Title II authority.” [159] 

  • June 12, 2015 – Net neutrality rules go into effect.[160] 

  • June 14, 2016 – New rules are upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[161] 

  • January 23, 2017 – President Trump names Ajit Pai as new FCC chairman.[162] 

  • April 26, 2017 – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announces plan to reverse Title II regulations.[163] 

  • May 1, 2017 – A U.S. appeals court declined to reconsider a rehearing of the FCC’s net neutrality case.[164] 

  • May 18, 2017 – The FCC voted 2–1 to start rolling back net neutrality regulations; this vote marked the beginning of a lengthy process required to modify the existing rules, and it did not actually change said rules.[122] 

  • June 6, 2017 – AmazonRedditNetflix and many other internet organizations announce that they will hold a simultaneous "Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality" on July 12 in a final attempt to convince the Republican-controlled FCC to keep the current net neutrality rules.[165][166][167][168] 

  • July 12, 2017 – The net neutrality 'day of action' occurred, involving many major companies and the original founder of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee.[169] 

  • July 17, 2017 – Comment Date for "Restoring Internet freedom" NPRM[123] 

  • August 30, 2017 – Reply Comment Date for "Restoring Internet freedom" NPRM[123] 

  • November 21, 2017 – FCC chairman Ajit Pai unveils plans to repeal the net neutrality policy in the United States. The five person FCC vote for repeal is scheduled for December 14, 2017. 

  • December 14, 2017 – The FCC votes 3 to 2, along party lines, in favor of reversing Title II regulations[170][171] 

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Diane Ware

Manager - Tech Support

I am co-owner of Ware Repair and enjoy working with technology, web design and development, and embedded programming, especially that which applies to robotics. I also enjoy writing blogs and sci-fi novels on my free time.