The Federal Communications Commission has just approved their plan for net neutrality, which also reclassifies broadband Internet as a public utility.
Under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the reclassification of the internet as a public utility allows the FCC to place regulations on Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon. These regulations would mandate these service providers to transmit all Internet content at the same speed, regardless of what interests are involved, according to Newsweek.
According to engadget, the FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, said, “It [the internet] is our printing press; it is our town square; it is our individual soap box and our shared platform for opportunity… That is why open internet policies matter. That is why I support network neutrality.”
Net neutrality, also known as open Internet, is an idea which says all Internet networks and content are equally available to all legal content generators, according to USA Today. Therefore, a practice called “paid prioritization” which results in ISPs showing preference towards companies who pay more for higher transmission speed of content, would be illegal.
The new reclassification also affects wireless data providers. The new plan places similar regulations on phone companies as those placed on other ISPs.
However, some people have spoken out against the new net neutrality plan.
Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president-external and legislative affairs, said, “What doesn’t make sense, and has never made sense, is to take a regulatory framework developed for Ma Bell in the 1930s and make her great grandchildren, with technologies and options undreamed of eighty years ago, live under it.”
Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said, according to FOX News, the plan represents a shift of power to allow the government to control the internet. Pai also warned the new plan would result in intended and unintended consequences, such as rate regulations. “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.”
The FCC has said the new regulations will be posted online soon and will be published in the Federal Register. The new regulations will also go into affect 60 days after their publication.