Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission(More commonly referred to as the FCC) took the opportunity to use his annual speech at the international Consumer Electronics Show to declare his resounding support for net neutrality, promising to work towards bringing unfettered and equal internet access to all of America. Wheeler’s remarks have a great bearing on the heated net neutrality debate and essentially signify that internet service provider’s days of charging for premium access will likely soon be over.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality is the concept that the internet should be an equal-access utility. Currently, large internet service providers allow companies to pay a premium price for what is essentially an internet “fast lane.” The argument for this practice is that it encourages investment and innovation, and creating a separate, faster internet frees up traffic to smaller businesses and websites. Net neutrality proponents argue that this is not the case and that the practice is simply used by ISPs to pocket more money. They also contend that it incentivizes ISPs to artificially slow down consumer internet traffic to force them to pay premium prices.
What is Likely to Happen?
Wheeler’s remarks confirm that the FCC’s planned unveiling of new rules for ISPs (to be revealed on Feb. 5) will include classifying ISPs as “common carriers,” under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. The most important part of this legislation is a clause that states that “All charges, practices, classifications and regulations for and in connection with such communication services shall be just and reasonable…” This would give the FCC increased oversight over internet service providers and allow them to enforce net neutrality. In his interview with Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro, Wheeler stated “we need to propose a rule that says there will be no blocking [of internet access], no throttling, no paid prioritization. We need a yardstick against which [ISPs’] performance should be measured.” Wheeler is well-supported within the FCC and while that organization will certainly attempt to place ISPs under firmer jurisdiction, many congressional republicans and ISPs have already started drafting bills and lawsuits to attempt to stop it.
How Will it Affect Me?
In the short term we’re unlikely to see immediate change. However, if the FCC can firm up congressional support for their rules then ISPs will be forced to drop prices and offer faster speeds to many consumers. In the meantime, it’s important to keep your business and your office network in top shape. We’re a Maryland based company with years of experience managing networks of both large and small businesses, as well as a team of highly dedicated, well-trained technical experts who stay on the cutting edge of network management so you don’t have to.
To talk to someone about network management for your small business, give us a call at (443) 992-7394. We’d be happy to assist you with your professional business networking needs.