FCC approves Net Neutrality

Bryan Cordova ,
Managing Editor

Last Thursday, Feb. 26 the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to pass net neutrality rules that regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, and prevents Internet providers from charging more for websites with priority traffic speeds.

The new rules prevent companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from dividing their Internet access into “express lanes” that give faster speeds for website providers at an additional cost, and slower speeds for all other websites under a tier plan.

Streaming companies like Netflix would have to pay additional fees to Internet service providers to be a part of the “express” lane so their customers wouldn’t have their downloads slowed down.

The tier plans would have been similar to how cable TV systems provide different channel listings for different plans. Unless paid for, channels like HBO and Comedy Central are only accessible by anyone who pays the additional fees. This would force customers to pay extra fees in order to be allowed to use certain websites.

With the new rules, all Internet data is transferred at the same rate, which allows startup companies and new businesses to stream data to their customers with the same speed as bigger companies.

“No one, whether government or corporate should control free, open access to the Internet,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said during the vote.

In May of 2014, Wheeler proposed the original plan of allowing companies to creating pay to play fast lanes. After much backlash from activists and companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other FCC commissioners, he retracted his plan.

In February of this year, he posted an op-ed piece to Wire, and detailed some of the proposals he would present to reclassify the Internet, and ban the blocking and throttling of Internet services.

He became the face of net neutrality to the public, and has garnered a reputation in online communities as an open Internet advocate.