by Sarah Warlick, content director
The votes are in and net neutrality is now a policy protected by law. Internet junkies rejoice!
After months of worrying, what-if-ing and lobbying on both sides, the Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to adopt net neutrality rules that ban “paid prioritization.” The rules make it illegal for ISPs to create “fast lanes” or “slow lanes” that allow content providers to pay more for faster delivery to their users. They also include provisions that prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling content arbitrarily. If it’s legal, they have to treat all content the same as they send it on to end users. The new policy covers broadband access to mobile devices in addition to desktops, laptops, internet-enabled televisions and other devices.
This all-content-equal approach isn’t the only big news from today’s FCC vote. As of this afternoon, consumer broadband internet has been classified as a telecommunications service that is subject to Title II regulations as specified in the Communications Act. Internet providers are now common carriers like your phone company, that isn’t allowed to reject certain callers or slow them down. All the calls go through and you get to decide whether to take them or not.
This is good news for small business owners as well as those who love their internet and want to preserve an open online environment. Under this policy, where all content is treated equally, small professional services providers have the same ability to deliver their messages to online audiences that the largest firms have. Quality will continue to be the prime factor in online success, not relative ability to pay extra for added access.
The move was disappointing for the biggest cable and telecommunications companies and their representatives in Congress, who have vowed to find a way to gut the legislation. This group had hoped to be able to prioritize certain content and charge a premium for improved content delivery speeds.
The lawsuits will go forth and efforts to overturn the ruling will unfold, but for now anyway, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate if the internet is part of your overall strategy to connect your firm to new audiences. Or if you just happen to love the internet the way it is: crazy, delicious and fair.