The loss of net neutrality?

In a 3-to-2 vote along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission has repealed the net neutrality regulations that prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from charging customers more for higher-quality content and other services and prevented them from blocking websites. The federal government also will no longer regulate internet service as if it were a utility.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the rollback of the rules, which were put in place in 2015 during the Obama administration, would “eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options,” The New York Times wrote.

“We are helping consumers and promoting competition. Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas,” Pai said.

Update Nov. 21, 2017:

The Federal Communications Commission announced today it plans to repeal net neutrality, regulations that ensure equal access to the internet. The move clears the way for internet service providers (ISPs) to charge customers more and block access to websites.

The rules, put in place by the Obama administration, prohibited ISPs from blocking or slowing streaming services or from charging extra for faster service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the move is to stop the federal government from “micromanaging the internet.”

“Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate,” Pai said in a statement.

The proposal is expected to be approved by the commission Dec. 14 in a 3-2 vote, with the five commissioners voting along party lines.


What will happen without net neutrality rules

First: I’m not a lawyer.

Net neutrality—the principle that no online traffic has priority over other traffic, not even for pay—might go away. If it does, big money will be behind its demise.

The end of network neutrality will create many lasting problems, including these specific issues:

1. The lawyers win

Every conceivable new theory about how one organization should have priority will ensue, and the courts will be clogged deciding the outcome. Today, the principle is simple: all traffic gets the same priority, and multimedia can have isochronous priority, but it’s not guaranteed.

+ Also on Network World: Will the end of net neutrality crush the Internet of Things? +

Without net neutrality, we will enter an era where ISPs, telcos, carriers and interconnects will all demand that THEIR traffic has priority, and yours does not—unless you pay. Let the litigation begin, and the courts glow in the dark in an attempt to sort out what theories of law now hold sway. Insert wallet, here.

2. Traffic is allowed to be throttled, even trampled

Across every backbone will be preferential treatment, and crossing some backbones may come with a toll charge. What is now a fairly egalitarian treatment of traffic might even mean micro-tolls as traffic crosses international boundaries. With net neutrality, all services go at the same rate. Without it, we’ll have fourth-class email.

3. Streaming data will dominate

The U.S. is far behind the rest of the top-world economies in terms of both commercial and residential connection speeds and accessibility. But everyone will want to become a cable company. Phone consumption of HD movies is already controversial in terms of how it has affected data plans and has contributed to the lies the telcos and mobile network operators have been able to tell about plan caps and “unlimited data.”

When you start streaming episodes of your favorite TV shows in HD, the data costs will climb. These networks weren’t designed to deliver millions and millions of concurrent data streams, so bandwidth-hungry apps will cause a re-thinking of data plans and of what kind of media types will be throttled, and in what way. Add in the rapid popularity of ultra-high definition/4K resolution, and it won’t be long until phone messaging will become secondary and the smartphone becomes the smart player in terms of media consumption and how it’s tariffed.

4. Tor will be a pariah

Peer-to-peer networks such as The Onion Router/TOR are difficult to control, and they eat up available bandwidth. Add in the influence of the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America, and the Tor network will be demoted to the same as the fourth-class email, throttled until you can’t share anything. Hierarchical control will be complete, and the internet will devolve into a star-like network instead of well, an internet.

5. Networks will become empires incarnate

The ISPs now have enormous connections whose interconnections aren’t throttled. Any ISP could attempt to charge any carrier or other ISP to enter their routers at a non-throttled speed. Smaller operators risk being swallowed up by larger ones merely by throttling smaller operator’s traffic to the detriment of the smaller operator’s customers. What are somewhat large investments will allow today’s large operators to bind into consortiums, creating tiers of privileged traffic.

The largest impact will be cable cutters and other high multimedia users. Without net neutrality, anyone’s stream can be stepped on like a garden hose, arbitrarily, probably until you pay more for the privilege of having the heel removed from the stream.

6. Metering and unthrottled control will cost, and it’s the death of free Wi-Fi

Because of pay for play, larger resources are favored over small business and residential users—as well as organizations that offer free Wi-Fi in places like coffee shops, restaurants and auto repair lounges.




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