The issue of net neutrality has been largely pushed to the back burners for several months, but according to a recent story in businessweek, that may be changing very soon. The story stated that “A U.S. regulator is considering letting Internet-service providers negotiate payments from companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. for access to subscribers.”
This is related to a proposal from Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman, which will be presented to a five person panel next month. While all the details of the proposal are not yet public, it is already generating quite a commotion. The new proposal is in response to a court defeat in January regarding this issue.
According to an anonymous source, the FCC is attempting to find out whether or not it should permit fee-for-access arrangements between content providers and ISPs, specifically for the ‘final connection’ to internet users.
The net neutrality rule that was previously in place with the FCC has been voided due to the January U.S. court ruling. This regulation required all companies that provide either businesses or consumers with high speed Internet to treat all web traffic the same. It prevented any additional fees for providing faster, or more-reliable access.
The companies that are pushing for new open-Internet policies include Google, Amazon and Netflix, among others. These companies may feel that if ISPs are allowed to charge extra to not throttle their content, it could become very costly. It would also allow ISPs to ‘pick winners and losers’ by deciding which traffic gets pushed through at high speeds, and which is transmitted slower (or even not at all).
Supporters of policies that would allow internet throttling, or charging for faster or additional bandwidth say that the vast majority of traffic is coming from high bandwidth companies, which causes everyone to experience slower service. With the bulk of internet traffic coming from video services and other high utilization traffic including Netflix, YouTube, Skype and Amazon, many argue that the smaller companies are paying the same prices, even though they use a fraction of the bandwidth.
Over the past several years people ranging from CEOs to major companies to even the President of the United States have weighed in on this issue. Anyone who uses the Internet for business or pleasure will want to keep an eye on what comes from this FCC proposal in the coming months.
The story from BusinessWeek can be seen HERE.