New FCC Rules Cause Concern for Multiple Groups

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has plans to advance rules that would allow broadband Internet providers to charge companies for preferential handling of web traffic.

For example, broadband providers wouldn’t be able to block or slow down websites, but they may be able to give preferential treatment to content companies or provide “fast lane” access to customers for a fee.

Taking sides. Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications, AT&T and other broadband providers are against stronger regulatory oversight. However, the newest rules may be something that they can tolerate since it leaves an option for offering higher speeds and better access for a fee.

On the other side of the fence, Google, Facebook and other web giants are firmly opposed to the preferential treatment model. Netflix, which is responsible for a large amount of Internet bandwidth, has gone on record stating that they are “concerned that the proposed approach could legalize discrimination” and could harm “innovation and punish U.S. consumers.”

Activists on both sides of the issue were dissatisfied with the new FCC proposal, and even disrupted recent meetings on the issue. Some feel that the proposal hasn’t gone far enough, while others oppose any new Internet rules that would limit information and access.

No rules currently in place. There are currently no rules to prevent broadband providers from blocking access to sites. However, an appeals court in January indicated that reclassifying broadband as a public utility would be necessary in order to completely ban “fast lane” type deals. The new proposal is an attempt to better define access without having to completely reclassify broadband.

While the proposal is still open for debate, the reaction from both sides of the issue indicates that there’s a long road ahead in terms of defining Internet access and speeds.

 

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