FCC Set to Reverse Net Neutrality Rules

According to various reports in today’s news—including the New York Times and Engadget—the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to repeal existing net neutrality rules implemented in 2015, during the previous presidential administration.

The FCC aims for a full repeal of the rules that currently govern how broadband Internet providers dole out bandwidth. The purpose of the existing net neutrality rules is to ensure that ISPs don’t favor some websites over others, with the goal of making delivery of Internet services akin to that of a utility, like gas, electricity, and water.

With the repeal of these rules, it is hypothetically possible that specific Internet service providers will favor properties that they own over those of competitors. A hypothetical example would be Comcast or AT&T providing preferential treatment in the form of greater bandwidth to streaming services associated with properties that they own. It could even lead to situations where an ISP charges more for access to some sites, for example a surcharge on accessing Netflix or YouTube.

Given how the entire world is in the midst of a transition away from physical media, this change in policy is certainly something that should be watched carefully. It likely means that consumers will have to shop around for the best deal if they get their entertainment from the cloud, and certainly the verdict is not in on whether regulation or deregulation provides the greater advantage to consumers.

When it comes to implementing the new policy, the F.C.C.’s official site says “The FCC has proposed to return the U.S. to the bipartisan, light-touch regulatory framework under which a free and open Internet flourished for almost 20 years.” We’ll see how that goes.

While the exact contents of the F.C.C.’s net neutrality rollback plan are not yet known, today’s the day the details will be revealed. Once more details do become available, I will update this post and link to those articles from here.