The Federal Communications Commission will vote today on new rules for internet service providers as part of the controversial “net neutrality” legislation.
The new rules would impact companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and other mobile and Internet providers, requiring corporations to act in the “public interest” when providing service to customers. That means leveling the playing field and giving smaller companies and start-ups a chance to compete.
The rules would place Internet regulation on par with current rules for phone companies that restrict “unjust or unreasonable” business practices.
Those in favor of the new rules argue that large Internet providers are actively trying to edge out small businesses, to the detriment of consumers. Internet providers, however, are strongly opposed and will likely sue if the plan passes.
Lending much public support to the bill are the companies Twitter and Netflix, which have repeatedly warned of a monopoly.
With a neutral net, however, websites and streaming media like TV shows and videos would all load at the same speed. Consumers, therefore, wouldn’t be more likely to watch a movie or show on one site over another because of a deal in place with the Internet service provider to load data faster.
“Safeguarding the historic open architecture of the Internet and the ability for all users to ‘innovate without permission’ is critical to American economic aspirations and our nation’s global competitiveness,” Twitter stated this week in a company blog post.
Streaming media services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video are known as data hogs, taking up a large percentage of bandwidth.
Google has itself remained fairly neutral in the net neutrality debate. While Google has supported legislation that would keep Internet providers from manipulating speeds to suit their businesses, the company has been expanding its own stake as an Internet provider. Its super high-speed broadband network, Google Fiber, is extending its reach in the country. Ultimately, Google may not need to rely on other Internet providers to funnel traffic.
The FCC’s vote today is therefore unlikely to mark the end of the net neutrality debate.