FCC votes to allow preferential treatment under new net neutrality rules

FCC votes to allow preferential treatment under new net neutrality rules

Summary: At the same time, the FCC also ruled that broadband companies could not slow down or altogether block incoming traffic outright.


The national debate over net neutrality has taken another turn that could lead to more controversy.

The Federal Communications Commission decided in a 3-2 vote on Thursday morning that it will allow telecommunications and broadband providers to charge content providers for preferential treatment across their respective networks.

This strategy is already being demonstrated by Netflix and Comcast, as one example, although executives at the online streaming giant have publicly complained about having to resort to this practice.

At the same time, the FCC also ruled that broadband companies could not slow down or altogether block incoming traffic outright.

The decision follows an announcement from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler a few weeks ago, who wrote with the intention of "setting the record straight" over what has ballooned into a heavily debated topic in the tech world and beyond over the last six months.

Reports started spreading on Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission would be implementing a new commercial angle for net neutrality, and those theories have been confirmed.

In that memo, Wheeler broadly outlined the revisions for net neutrality, scheduled to be enforced by the end of the year.

Internet service providers (ISPs) will need to disclose all "relevant information" and policies for governing networks.

The FCC also stipulated that ISPs cannot "act in a commercially unreasonable manner," meaning ISPs can't block legal content nor can they favor traffic from one entity over another.

To recall, Verizon Wireless won a court challenge to net neutrality rules, leading the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to send the rules back to the FCC in January.

This sparked a debate about the future of the Internet as the move essentially meant broadband companies would be able to charge tech companies, such as Netflix or Hulu, more money for fast connections needed to deliver their services.

It was then left up to the FCC to rewrite the rules. In February, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal he asserted will preserve the Internet as "an open platform for innovation and expression."

Fears mounted that changes to net neutrality would result in Internet censorship, routine network throttling upon certain users and services, the shifting of heavy fees from ISPs and placing the burden on consumers, or all the above.

Topics: Networking, 4G, Mobility, Telcos, Tech Industry

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  • This give companies incentives NOT to upgrade speeds.

    This ruling gives ISP's incentives to NOT upgrade their data speeds, because other broadband speed intensive services will then HAVE to pay for higher speed access to be competitive. ANY video streaming services, gaming services, data cloud services, voice services will be at a disadvantage UNLESS they start paying for the higher speeds. If the ISPs just raise their speeds (for real, not in their marketing material), they won't be able to charge the companies for faster speed access.
    • Wheeler is evil

      In otherwords the consumers will have to pay for the premium services because we know the comapnies won't. It's all BS in the Europe people pay ~$30 a month for faster internet while people in amwerica pay $60 + and get their internet throttled, blocked, and recorded. Just do a tracert command and you'll see how they all record your pages. That and they throttle the crap out of you and hide behind "We charge more because the 5% use 95% of the bandwidth". It's all bs, stupid democrats
  • First thing that comes to mind

    First thing that comes to mind: how very disappointing.

    Second thing: who's palm was greased?
    Singularity Point
  • Bad decision

    But we'll see how it goes.
    John L. Ries
  • Save the Internet

    If net neutrality burns, we all burn with it.