The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met Thursday, May 15 to discuss the hotly debated net neutrality issue. It might sound boring, but trust us—it’s important! For those of you who have no clue what net neutrality is, it revolves around the idea that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally by the Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. One of the main splits in opinion refers to the legalization or ban of “fast lanes,” which would give people and businesses the opportunity to pay for prioritized access, making their sites load faster than the sites that do not pay. So for instance, ESPN’s website would load quickly because they can afford to pay for the fast lane, but Average Joe’s sports blog would load much slower.
Ideally with net neutrality, ISPs would not be able to block any legal content or favor certain traffic over others and should be open about how they handle Internet traffic. These were the three principles that formed the basis of the FCC’s Open Internet Order that was enacted in 2010. After the D.C. Court of Appeals deemed this an overstep on the part of the FCC in January, they overturned the act, leaving the FCC to rewrite rules that were publicly announced yesterday.
The rules proposed by the FCC passed narrowly with a 3-2 vote, and while the FCC speaks adamantly about preserving an open Internet, many see the new rules as approval of the “fast lane” system. The new rules emphasize the need to treat all legal Internet traffic equally; however, they allow “fast lanes” for customers who are looking for prioritized access. The FCC did state that these “fast lanes” are acceptable as long as the ISPs don’t slow down other traffic below what the customer has paid for. Now that the regulations have passed the vote, a 120 day comment window opens for the general public to offer their opinions. What do you think? Do you think “fast lanes” count as net neutrality? We’d love to hear your opinions!
For more information on the net neutrality issue, check out the following articles:
“Tentative FCC Internet rules would allow fast lanes” by Mike Snider & Roger Yu
“FCC on Net Neutrality: How it Happened” by the Mashable Team
“FCC and Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Before Today’s Big Meeting” by Jason Abbruzzese