The future of net neutrality will be determined next week
By a 3-2 margin, the FCC voted today to maintain the 2017 repeal of net neutrality, the Obama era rules that forced all streams of streaming content to be treated the same. In other words, with net neutrality an ISP or a wireless network provider could not not allowed to block or throttle any streaming internet content. Nor could it charge extra to have that that content sent to customers via special fast lanes. When the Trump administration brought in its own FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC repealed net neutrality even though the majority of Americans are said to be in favor of keeping it.
FCC votes 3-2 to keep net neutrality repealed
FCC Chairman Pai said that getting rid of net neutrality has helped improve the internet for wireless users in America. Pai said, "The American people were told that they would get the Internet one word at a time. They were told that they would have to pay $5 per tweet. They were told that it would be the end of the Internet as we know it. It was frightening stuff to be sure, but it was utter nonsense." The FCC chairman during the first week of October mentioned some positive changes to the internet that supposedly came about after net neutrality was removed from the books. For example, after adding only 20,000 new cell sites during the four years ending in 2017, 72,000 sites were added in 2018 and 2019 with the removal of net neutrality. However, to be fair, carriers started building out 5G networks during the latter two years.Earlier this month,
Last year, 22 state attorneys general and the AG of the District of Columbia had filed a suit demanding that the FCC reverse its decision to ban net neutrality. The court agreed with the FCC's decision to end net neutrality but did order the FCC to hold hearings on the rules today, October 27th. And according to Reuters, the FCC voted 3-2 (along party lines) to maintain the repeal. Today, FCC Chairman Pai said "It is patently obvious to all but the most devoted members of the net neutrality cult that the case against the (net neutrality repeal) was a sham. Note how Mr. Pai ironically refers to those who are in favor of net neutrality a cult.
Meanwhile, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the regulatory agency said "this agency is not interested in getting it right. Instead, it doubles down, rather than recognizing the realities of the world around us." She added that the FCC's argument is "a set of three cobbled-together arguments designed to tell the court to go away, the public that we are not interested in their opinion, and history that we lack the humility to admit our mistake. Among those opposing the FCC's rollback of net neutrality are firefighters who found their service throttled when they were responding to a raging blaze. But here their fears are given short shrift. The agency simply concludes that the elimination of net neutrality is worth the risk, even when lives are at stake. This is irresponsible." Another Democrat, Senator Ed Markey, said "without net neutrality protections, it’s just a matter of time before big broadband providers start raising prices, slowing down internet speeds, and making it harder for families, small business, and students to access the opportunities to recover and rebuild from this pandemic."
Meanwhile, net neutrality has been a campaign issue for over a year and should Joe Biden win next week's election, he is expected to select a new FCC chairman who is likely to restore net neutrality. Meanwhile, Chairman Pai responded by stating that "there is no evidence the Restoring Internet Freedom order has harmed public safety. By employing a light-touch, market-driven approach to regulation, broadband providers are better able to build stronger and more resilient networks that enhance public safety, including through services like next-generation 911."