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Net neutrality is no more. Here's what that means

13 June 2018

The proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lift what chairman Ajit Pai described as "heavy-handed, utility-style regulations" on broadband internet service providers (ISPs) was first mooted late past year. While the FCC is removing itself from net neutrality regulation, the Federal Trade Commission can try to punish ISPs that make net neutrality promises and fail to keep them. Consumer groups have charged that when zero-rating plans are used to promote services owned by the broadband providers, or by companies that pay the providers to market them, they are akin to fast lanes. This year the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the FCC's decision on killing net neutrality, but this was seen as a largely symbolic victory. The ISPs are essentially breaking that contract with the users when they start picking and choosing which services to deliver at normal speed.

An edge provider, for those wondering, is an individual or entity that provides content, applications or services over the internet, or devices for accessing any of those things over the internet, available to end-users, i.e., the consumers. If companies like Comcast and AT&T can charge more for "internet packages" the same way they charge different prices for cable TV packages, Schaub said people who are already struggling to pay their bills may suffer.

But the FCC's outgoing rules already allowed broadband providers leeway to create special data channels for such services where the net-neutrality provisions wouldn't apply.

Martin said broadband providers probably won't mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers.

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The reality is that what no one knows exactly what the internet will look like moving forward without net neutrality in place.

Washington and OR now have their own net neutrality laws, and a bill is pending in California's legislature.

Pai says Internet service will become cheaper and faster with the rules now gone. In fact, some have made clear they want to have the freedom to prioritize certain kinds of traffic over others. "President Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed on a light-touch framework to regulating the internet. Network investment topped $1.5 trillion", he wrote. Verizon won that case because the FCC didn't have to power to regulate the ISPs under the Title I classification that the ISPs were regulated under before.

Democratic lawmakers who are opposed to the repeal took to social media, promising to reinstate the regulations. And consumer groups note that should the FCC repeal survive the looming lawsuits, the end result won't be pretty for American consumers. Ed Markey of MA wrote on Twitter.

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Still, others cheered the rollback.

"Those "fast lanes" will put those who won't or can not pay in the slow lane, making the internet look a lot like cable TV", Sohn says.

"Following the decision to repeal net neutrality, many Americans anxious that the internet would turn into what cable-tv is: a set of options based on price and preference". "Their brazen giveaway to big corporate interests will soon hit consumers and small businesses with higher costs and less choice, threatening young people's access to the good-paying jobs of the future and jeopardizing the entrepreneurial American spirit that is the envy of the world".

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Net neutrality is no more. Here's what that means