We’ve won! The FCC approved net neutrality, which means we can binge on Netflix until our eyes fall out of our sockets. As defined by Google, net neutrality is “the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.” According to the FCC ruling on February 26, 2015, under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, the FCC treats ISPs as public utilities. Therefore, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the policy ensures “that no one—whether government or corporate—should control free open access to the Internet.” As of now, the immediate future, the Internet is free and open to all of us, and we won’t be charged extra for streaming Netflix, Hulu, and so on.
A battle may be won, but the war isn’t over. Following this decision, experts predict refinements from the courts and Congress, as well as possible lawsuits from telecom companies. Let’s examine the other side of the issue. Why would the telecoms, in particular the ISPs, be against net neutrality? They claim that Amazon and Netflix should pay up for the disproportionately high bandwidth they use. For instance, streaming a movie from Netflix takes a huge toll on a network, as opposed to loading your favorite blog or forum. HuffPost states that “during peak hours in North America, Netflix accounts for over one third of ‘downstream’ Internet traffic, which is the data received (rather than sent) by computers.” But Netflix, obviously, opposes the side of the ISPs and encourages net neutrality for all consumers.
So what does this all mean for you, the consumer? You will still receive Internet from your ISP and pay for it the way you always do. Since the FCC now treats ISPs as a public utility, it’s similar to receiving services and paying for them from your telephone or electric company. This public utility classification is vital, because it prevents ISPs from charging you more to stream Netflix, for example. Also, service interruptions are not allowed under this classification. Though it seems far-fetched, Comcast has been guilty of service interruptions in the past. For more information on how the new net neutrality ruling affects you, please read: