It was decided on Thursday by a 3-2 vote that the Internet should be formally enforced as an unbiased communications medium. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the policy will ensure "that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free open access to the Internet."
The main changes for broadband providers are as follows:
- Broadband access is being reclassified as a telecommunications service, meaning it will be subject to much heavier regulation
- Broadband providers cannot block or speed up connections for a fee
- Internet providers cannot strike deals with content firms, known as paid prioritisation, for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers
- Interconnection deals, where content companies pay broadband providers to connect to their networks, will also be regulated
- Firms which feel that unjust fees have been levied can complain to the FCC. Each one will be dealt with on a case by case basis
- All of the rules will also apply to mobile providers as well as fixed line providers
- The FCC won't apply some sections of the new rules, including price controls
The majority of the arguments against the decision included those of financial security for the Internet Providers. Which would appear to have been out favored by the need or want for a free and open internet as demonstrated by all the companies and citizens who also favor net neutrality. Including firms like Netflix who were reportedly one of the biggest lobbyists to support the decision. As well as a record four million comments that were sent to the regulator alongside the campaigners protesting outside its Washington headquarters resulting in President Obama eventually intervening, urging the FCC to adopt the "strongest possible" rules. Some however, still disagree as Scott Belcher, chief executive of the Telecommunications Industry Association, said that the "onerous set of rules" was an "over-reaction from the FCC". He also added that there were concerns that future administrations may use the rules to impose even more restrictions on broadband providers.
Overall this bill is a positive as it keeps the internet in a state of it's original intention; freedom and equality for all who use it. It does however mean that there could be slight rises in prices as the US broadband providers are estimated to spend around $73bn (£47bn) a year on upgrading infrastructure. Net usage is expected to double over the next 10 years and data transmissions to increase eight-fold. If there is an increase in price, whatever it may be, at least we're all in the same boat!