Is ending net neutrality a good thing?

Johnson City Press • Dec 26, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Federal net neutrality regulations established during the Obama administration have been rolled back by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC voted along partisan lines earlier this month to end a policy that required internet service providers to treat all content the same without favoring some or blocking others.

Marketplace.org reports net neutrality has long been a controversial issue for both web companies and regulators. While many companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime are in support of it, telecom companies and internet service providers — such as Verizon and Comcast — are opposed to net neutrality. They argue net neutrality regulations have harmed competition and stifled innovation.

Even so, advocates of net neutrality say removing the regulations is not in the best internet of consumers. John Bermayer, senior counsel for Public Knowledge, which is an organization that plans to sue the FCC over ending net neutrality, explained the complicated issue to Marketplace.org by using what he called a “simple metaphor.”

He said consider a “telephone system, which has long been regulated to protect the public interest. You probably wouldn’t like it if you tried to order pizza from your favorite local place and were connected to a Papa John’s instead because it had got some special deal. Or if a Verizon telephone only connected to other Verizon phones. Obviously, there are a lot of differences between internet access and the telephone and how they work and how they are built, but the basic principle that essential communication systems ought to be non-discriminatory is the same.”

The Associated Press reported big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, which they said were reactionary and have discouraged investment in broadband networks.

“What is the FCC doing today?” asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican. “Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.”

Under the new rules, Comcast, Verizon and other companies would be allowed to slow down or block access to services they don’t favor. They could also charge higher fees to rivals for higher transmission speeds, and create “fast lanes” for their preferred services.

Such things have happened before. An AP report in 2007 found Comcast was blocking some file-sharing services. Meanwhile, AT&T blocked Skype and other internet calling applications that competed with its own voice-call services from the iPhone.

Tell us what you think. Will ending net neutrality regulations help or harm internet consumers?

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