The FCC has approved strict new rules for net neutrality. How will this affect your site in the future?
On February 26, the FCC approved a new set of rules to maintain net neutrality. The FCC, or Federal Communications Commision, regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, DC and US territories. This monumental decision to approve these rules is designed to keep the internet neutral among all of its users.
You may be wondering, what is net neutrality? To put it simply, net neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally. This means that no organization or company can increase internet speed for large businesses that are willing to pay big bucks, and to the contrary, slow down internet services for those that can’t afford it.
Without net neutrality, internet providers would be capable of offering a “fast lane” for customers willing to pay an extra fee. They would also be able to block certain sites. Net neutrality ensures that no web traffic receives higher prioritization over others.
President Obama believes that net neutrality will help startups and small businesses to make an online presence. He said, “[net neutrality] will protect innovation and create a level playing field for the next generation of entrepreneurs.” Obama backed the FCC’s new rules which were decided by a 3-2 vote within the organization. The three that voted for net neutrality rules were Democrats, while the two that voted against were Republicans.
Net neutrality may seem advantageous for everyone, but there is of course a strong opposition. Many Republicans are arguing that this is just another way for the government to micromanage powerful corporations. Many people are also worried that this will dramatically raise taxes and the fees we pay to our internet providers. Ajit Pai, a Republican Commissioner that strongly opposes the new net neutrality policy, said, “The order explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes. Read my lips: More new taxes are coming. It’s just a matter of when”.
Who benefits from net neutrality?
Anyone who uses the internet should in theory benefit from net neutrality. However, companies like Netflix, Facebook and Amazon are particularly thrilled about the news. If it wasn’t for net neutrality, certain internet providers could block or slow down these popular services, causing their market to crumble. None of them wants to deal with discrimination and risk losing millions of customers due to slower streaming and higher fees.
Who is against strong net neutrality rules?
Internet service providers strongly oppose the new rules; companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon (Tech30) fear that net neutrality will create a bad business environment. Without net neutrality, internet providers lose the control they desire of regulating the internet. They worry that these new regulations will trap them under the same rules that apply to phone companies and that the FCC will ultimately control the internet.
Also, as mentioned above, many people are worried about higher taxes on internet and additional fees. In turn, this may make us hate our internet and cable provider even more.
What does it mean for you?
All in all, this may just seem like a bunch of political nonsense that should be taken care of in Washington D.C. Does it even affect you? Immediately, probably not. It’s projected that nothing will really go into effect until next summer when all is cleared up. The folks in Washington D.C. are fully expecting that the major internet providers will attempt to sue the FCC in order to overturn the rules. In other words, we all wait until everything settles between the internet providers and the FCC.
As of now, we do know that with net neutrality regulations your site will not be blocked or slowed down by your internet provider in order to benefit competing sites. Also, your Netflix shouldn’t suddenly slow down (or speed up, unfortunately).
Net neutrality should keep all internet users at the same level, which is exactly what the internet is supposed to be: free and open.
What are other people saying about net neutrality?
On Twitter, people are voicing their opinions about the new net neutrality rules (surprise?). Jeffrey Zeldman, a respected web designer and owner of Happy Cog Studios, said:
And Kickstarter tweeted:
What did the opposition have to say? Mark Cuban openly expressed his opinion:
There are two distinct sides to net neutrality and it’s up to you to form your own opinion. Will the internet remain neutral? Or will the internet providers fight back, causing more debate and possibly overturn the rules? Follow the topic of net neutrality closely to see what will shape the future of the internet.
Let us know in the comments what you think about net neutrality. Or, send us a tweet @westhost.