FCC Votes Yes on Net Neutrality

/ Feb 26, 2015

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler 2-4-15

The FCC has made its decision. After plenty of debate and speculation, the agency has ruled that the internet will be reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act, ultimately blocking the possibility of “fast and slow lanes” online.

This vote in favor of net neutrality will prevent ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T from throttling some content providers or reaping the benefits of paid prioritization from others. The FCC decided to reclassify the internet as a telecommunications service via a 3-2 vote, which predictably fell along party lines (Democrats said yes; Republicans said no).

This big decision comes after months of debate surrounding net neutrality, involving spats between Netflix and ISPs (the former begrudgingly paying the latter for faster streaming) and an internet slow down day in which sites like Netflix, Vimeo, Reddit, and WordPress displayed the infamous “spinning wheel of doom” to show what slow lanes on the web would look like for users.

More recently, President Obama came out with a statement in support of net neutrality, stating, “We cannot allow internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.”

Those in the content business have also come out in support of net neutrality. Veena Sud, for example, the executive producer of the Netflix semi-original series “The Killing” (which originally started on AMC) said of the FCC’s decision, “What you do today is secure the future of the open internet and make sure all our voices are heard.” FCC chairman Wheeler has previously deemed this move “the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC.”

However, not everyone’s in favor of the FCC’s reclassification, namely the ISPs. Some are likely to sue to prevent the new rules from coming into place (which they’re set to do 30 days from now). As GOP commissioner Ajit Pai put it, “The Internet is not broken. There is no problem for the government to solve,” adding that the change could bring taxes to the internet that “will leave a welt on consumers’ wallets.” Meanwhile, Verizon SVP Michael Glover predicted “uncertainty for consumers, innovators, and investors.”

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