Net Neutrality Standards Official in November

by Matt Klassen on September 26, 2011

Almost a year after the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) proposed its latest framework for Net Neutrality, it looks like the rules governing Internet network management practices will finally be made official in late November…that is barring any further legal challenges.

For those who may need a quick reminder, Net Neutrality is the concept that every American deserves equal access to the Internet, meaning that companies shouldn’t be allowed to give priority to certain clients or arbitrarily throttle the Internet speeds of others. It’s a free and open Internet for all and its caused nothing but problems.

Enduring years of proposals that were beaten down by Congress, challenged by telecommunication companies, and scoffed at by market analysts, it was December 2010 when the FCC finally established the groundwork for its Net Neutrality policy, and it is only now that the rules are actually being made official.

By the time the proposed Net Neutrality standards come into effect on November 20th, it will have been almost an entire calendar year since the FCC first proposed them, which has many wondering, why the long delay? While an open and accessible Internet for all is certainly something that the majority of Americans want, the simple fact is that it’s not something that influential Americans want.

Seen by Republicans as yet another method of government interference in people’s God-given right to operate their business however they want, Net Neutrality has faced some stiff opposition since the FCC first proposed such regulations almost two years ago. While the FCC didn’t do itself any favours, enforcing its regulations when it had no legal authority to do so, it was clear from the start that whatever Net Neutrality we would be left with would some pared-down version of what is should be.

With that said, after taking the year to see if it’s bastardized Net Neutrality standards would garner any serious opposition, the FCC is finally taking the steps to make its Internet management policies official, finally publishing them in the Federal Register and announcing that the regulations will come into effect in November.

The Net Neutrality standards contain three basic rules: company transparency; no blocking; and no unreasonable discrimination. Simply put, the FCC wants companies to divulge how they are managing their network, wants to protect people from the unwarranted and arbitrary throttling of network speeds, and wants people to get the Internet access that they pay for.

Of course if this sounds to you like a big step towards enacting these policies, well, you’d be wrong. When the policies were first announced a year ago it didn’t take long for the telecommunications market to fight back, with Verizon and MetroPCS suing the FCC over the Commission’s ability to legally enforce such rules. At the time both cases were thrown out due to the fact that the FCC had yet to file the standards in the Register, and now that that’s out of the way, look for both companies to re-file papers.

Not giving into despair, however, I for one am hopeful. We should be under no delusions that Net Neutrality will come easily to such an established and entrenched telecommunications market, so why not get the legal proceedings going so that maybe, one day, Americans can finally enjoy the Internet they pay for.

Photo c/o The Inquistr

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Politics Matters September 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

On the subject of net neutrality, Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, recently said: “It’s a debate that is going on in the Congress, and it’s really: Is the Internet going to be something that everyone has free and open access to, or, is it going to be something that is sort of controlled? What we don’t need is a lot of government control in the businesses of the internet. I think what we need is more of what we have with National Public Radio, which is a really true and balanced set of reporting that unfortunately has become politicized. What we are seeing is a shift from “anything goes” on the Internet to a shift where major corporations are shaping the news outlets and buying up more and more of the news outlets and putting them under corporate control and one set of a small number of hands…. We need freeware, we need shareware, and we need open access. People need to be able to trust sources that they can find on the internet, rather than have them controlled in a small number of hands or by the government.” (Gibson appeared on the Charlottesville, VA, politics interview program Politics Matters with host and producer Jan Madeleine Paynter discussing journalism

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