Following the removal of open Internet provisions stemming from the Verizon v. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) decision in January, the FCC has repeatedly stated that it would work to keep the Internet equitable for traffic of all types. On April 23, the FCC announced that new a proposal to preserve the concept of net neutrality will be released on May 15. Sources say that while the plan will protect traffic from Internet service provider favoritism, it will also allow for companies to pay for faster connectivity.
The move is seen as an attempt by regulators to find common ground between consumers and service providers, and is likely to leave no party fully satisfied. While consumer advocates argue that the ability to pay for preferred service will inevitably lead to discrimination against those who do not pay, service providers say it will allow them to provide customers with new products.
Providers are also likely to be subject to much more stringent disclosure statements when they strike deals for service priority. While customers are not likely to see pricing increases immediately, the service fees paid by content producers could potentially make their way to consumer down the road.
Currently content providers a like Google pay to use infrastructure that brings their information to the doorsteps of service providers, and providers then deliver that data to customers. Wall Street Journal reports that one cable executive says that the last leg of that journey should not be regulated any differently.
“Somebody has to pay for this, and if they weren’t going to let companies pay for enhanced transport and delivery…it just seemed like this was going to come back to the consumer.”
WSJ report that that the American Civil Liberties Union takes the exact opposite opinion, saying, “If the FCC embraces this reported reversal in its stance toward net neutrality, barriers to innovation will rise, the marketplace of ideas on the Internet will be constrained, and consumers will ultimately pay the price.”
We’ll bring you more when the plan has been released.
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