Net Neutrality has been a topic I have written about at length, multiple times this semester. With the recent Netflix Deal in place the debate about the legality or consequences for the health of the internet as we know it. As I wrote about in my previous pieces on this issue, there seemed to be a general though that maybe the loss for the FCC against Verizon in the case on how Verizon needed to treat is broadband traffic regarding whether or not telecommunication antitrust rules applied to them, was not really a loss at all. In fact, the “loss” may have opened up the opportunity for the FCC to write all new legislation for ISP’s that would be much more strict and well defined than anything they could enforce via the old teleco rules.
Unfortunately today, the WSJ and NYTimes reported that the FCC was going to propose new Net Neutrality rules that to my eye, seem like a real cop out on the parts of legislators. With the new rules that the FCC will propose, ISP’s and certain companies would be allowed to create deals giving those companies preferential treatment in terms of bandwidth if the terms were “commercially reasonable”. The WSJ article claims that this is an attempt by the FCC to find a middle ground amongst the many different voices in their ear on how to legislate on this major issue. With companies like Apple and Amazon creating massive streaming operations the ISP’s will need to be more technologically sound than ever, but the question in the end is who should bear that cost and with what sorts of consequences.
I believe that the passing on of these costs to consumers will be a huge limiting factor for companies who need the larger bandwidth constraints but cannot pay for it as well as a barrier to entry for those potential companies that cannot afford to strike deals with the major ISP’s. Cable prices have skyrocketed over the past 20 years as I am sure the majority of us can attest to as we pay the Comcast bill every month, and in my opinion if these companies are allowed to charge for preferential treatment the costs will be passed onto the consumer and then some, all the while stifling any competition left in the market. The road will not be easy for the FCC with multiple lobbying efforts going on and with a new technological reality than they have ever faced sitting in front of them, but hopefully they stay strong on net neutrality rules for the sake of the internet.