The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has come out in full support of the concept that all websites on the Internet should be treated equally. Welcome to the net neutrality debate.
Net neutrality means Internet providers can’t speed up access to some websites based on whether those sites can pay for a faster connection. And it can’t slow down or block others that can’t pay. Right now, the issue is that we don't actually live in a 'net neutral' world. Although it isn't the norm, content companies (like Netflix) can actually pay Internet providers (like Comcast) to get faster connections, while your favorite sports blog is stuck at the back of the line.
The FCC has voted to reclassify the Internet as a public utility (think: water and electricity) so that it has the power to stop Internet providers from slowing down or speeding up specific sites in exchange for payment.
High five. They’ve been pushing for this outcome for a while. Their argument? Letting Internet providers use pay-to-play would put startup sites and smaller companies at a disadvantage. Read: bad for innovation. President Obama agrees.
If these rules stick, you should be able to stream “House of Cards” as quickly as you can pull up your friend’s crowdfunding project page. Mazel.
This is the FCC’s third attempt to write the rules of the Internet. But this fight may not be over. Internet providers are expected to take them to court. Again. To be continued...