In April, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler put forth a proposal that would allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to allow “fast lane” privileges for those content providers who are willing to pay for it. ISPs have been pushing for these changes for a long time. Consumer groups are largely against these changes. As a compromise, the FCC has allowed limited consumer protections.
For example, an ISP may demand that a video or audio streaming company pay more for a bigger internet pipe. The FCC proposal prohibits these charges from being passed directly to consumers. Nothing prohibits ISPs from indirectly passing these charges on.
One side of the argument says that providers and ISPs should be able to work out any pricing deal they wish. The other side of the argument states that the same rules that apply to telephones and wireless providers. I believe that equal access among all providers is essential to commercial services (such as ELDs and telematics services). Even some of the larger internet firms such as Google and Facebook have come out against this proposal.
In an Aug. 5 speech, President Obama stated:
“One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That’s the big controversy here. So you have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet, so they can stream movies faster. I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users. You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.”
What can you do? The FCC is taking comments until September 15. You can file a comment or contact the FCC from here.
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