Negotiations to take place next week in bid to save California's net neutrality bill
Even though a majority of the public wants the protections offered by net neutrality, since June 11th the regulation is no more, voted down by the Trump-era FCC. As a result, streaming content no longer has to be treated the same by ISPs and wireless carriers. Let's pick a carrier at random for a hypothetical example. Say, umm, AT&T approaches a streaming content provider like, oh, Netflix and says that for 10 sacks of gold coins a month, it will allow Netflix to use its "fast lane" that offers faster data speed, and a higher resolution. Goodbye level playing field. And eventually, when Netflix gets tired of turning over sacks of gold to AT&T, it will ask its subscribers to pay more to cover the extra payments. Again, this is a hypothetical example.
As it turns out, Assemblyman Santiago and Senator Wiener are actually working together to fix SB 822. The Assemblyman, who is the chairman of the committee working on the bill, says he will compromise with the senator, but hasn't promised to remove the amendments he added to the bill. Yet, Santiago says, "Net neutrality lives. It really does."
As written, SB 822 was considered even tougher than the regulations put in place back in 2015 by the Obama era FCC. That's because it also prevented providers from not counting their own content toward subscribers' monthly data caps while not offering the same to content from other providers. Considering that AT&T just spent $85 billion for a ton of content, you can understand why it would want to lobby against the bill. Giving his reasons for amending the bill, Santiago says that he was concerned that in the short term, consumers would lose the benefit of zero-rated plans if the bill passed as written. In addition, the Assemblyman adds that he was worried that SB 822's strict rules would halt investment in the industry.
Next Tuesday the bill will face one of two hearings that remain before SB 822 is voted on by the entire California Assembly. Wiener feels that it is too late to negotiate changes to the bill in time for that hearing. But there will be an appropriations committee hearing next month which will provide enough time to negotiate a compromise. Wiener warns that Californians need protection now, especially in light of the aforementioned purchase of Time Warner by AT&T. However, he adds that if a compromise can't be reached, net neutrality legislation in the state will have to wait until next year.