De-Neutralizing the Net

November 22, 2017  |  By Holly Dragoo

Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai issued a statement on "Internet Freedom" this month announcing the intention to roll back regulations that he says “micromanage” the options that Internet service providers (ISPs) are able to offer customers. The concept is better known as "net neutrality," or the idea that all ISPs must offer services equally regardless of factors like bandwidth, content, or finances. The draft order goes to vote among the FCC members on December 14 and is expected to pass, split along party lines.

IISP Analyst Holly Dragoo: "Pai claims Internet investment is being hurt by current regulations, but there are no numbers being shown to support this. This draft order has potentially wide-reaching ramifications, especially for consumers. Depending on how the bill is written, consumers could be charged additionally for services they currently enjoy for ‘free’ with Internet access -- such as streaming video, map services, or a favorite search engine. The only real accountability for ISPs included in this proposal is the mandatory disclosure of how much (if) they throttle service bandwidth. In theory, a boutique ISP may start up that will honor the ideals of net neutrality, but market capitalization likely will not tolerate that model well; the setting is ripe for a small ISP oligarchy to develop, making it difficult for entrepreneurial firms to sprout up. Even more troubling, if rumors are true, measures are being written into the order to limit the ability of states to make their own net neutrality laws – which seems inconsistent with traditional Republican party goals."



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