Net Neutrality Ruling Put Up For Public Debate: You Too Can Participate

Vivek Saxena

The ruling on net neutrality was put up for public debate today by the Federal Communications Commission. This means anybody, including you, can participate by visiting the the commission’s official website and clicking on proceeding “14-28.”

You have 60 days to make any initial comments, after which all comments made (including yours) will be posted on the site for review by the public. You will then have another 60 days to either make more comments or rebut anybody else’s comments.

This ruling comes after a tumultuous few months of tiffs between FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who believes in instituting a paid fast lane for the net, and the legions of consumer advocates who vehemently disagree with this idea on the basis that it violates the core principles of net neutrality.

Net neutrality resolves around the simple principle that all traffic sources on the net are created equal. It basically bars broadcast providers from offering special services to certain traffic sources. It was officially put into legislation back in 2010 via the FCC Open Internet Order. However, Chairman Wheeler wants to modify it so as to allow companies to basically sell faster connections to those who can afford it.

Lobbyists oppose this amendment to net neutrality because they believe it would give an unfair competitive advantage to those businesses (namely corporations and conglomerates) that possess the financial resources to afford such a service. However, according to CNET, Chairman Wheeler argued otherwise at a press conference:

“The potential for there to be some kind of a fast lane, available to only a few, has many people concerned. Personally, I don’t like the idea of the internet divided between haves and have-nots. I will work to see that that does not happen.”

His argument is that this notion of a fast lane is inherently wrong – that his proposed modification to net neutrality would not affect anyone negatively. Service providers would not be permitted to purposefully slow the connectivity speeds of everyone else. However, they would be allowed to sell extra bandwidth that nobody’s using to those who want to buy it.

Also up for debate is whether or not the commission should reclassify high-speed net as a Title II service. This would permit the FCC to regulate it the same way it regulates gas, electricity, water, etc. Not surprisingly, broadcast providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable oppose this idea on the basis that it would stifle their innovation.

The question still remains – what do YOU think about these potential adjustments to net neutrality? Let us know! Better yet, let the FCC know!

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