WASHINGTON, DC – Net neutrality is not just a catchy political phrase anymore. It’s on the books, we think, and we can thank the fine folks at the Federal Communication Commission, you know, the FCC.
The FCC approved the new rules on a party-line vote; the three Democrats voting for the changes with the two Republicans voting no.
The short explanation is that the FCC will now consider Internet Service Providers in the same category as telephone companies, at least in terms of rules and regulations.
People pushing for net neutrality say this will allow everyone to have access to fast Internet. It will also keep Internet Service Providers from blocking or slowing online content and services like movie streaming.
This also means ISPs can’t charge content providers to get in the fast lane. Folks on the other side say life isn’t equal in the cyber world, and that some content may need the fast line.
A medical video of a CAT scan, they say, may be more important than a video of a cat.
They also say more government control will slow investments in infrastructure to meet the demand for all that extra data, which will slow the expansion of the internet to rural areas.
And, by treating the internet service like telephones, the government can tax it like telephones through the universal service charge.
The new rules will almost certainly be challenged in court, which will only add to the web of uncertainty for providers and customers.