FCC Passes Net Neutrality Regulations: How This Benefits You

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday voted on maintaining an open internet, retitling broadband internet as a Title II public utility and allowing the agency to have more regulatory power over ISPs. This is great news for just about everyone aside from the Internet Service Providers, but if you’re wondering why it’s such great news then here’s a breakdown of what this means for you and others like you who just want to browse the web without any unnecessary hassle:

  • This victory for net neutrality doesn’t mean we gain anything; it means we don’t lose anything, and the internet remains as open as it always has been.
  • Net neutrality means that your ISP gives you access to every website on equal terms, regardless of whether or not certain websites contain more data than others, thus making it more costly for them to do so.
  • If net neutrality was abandoned, ISPs would bring fast lanes to the internet that would cost a premium. Those who couldn’t afford to pay those premium charges would be stuck with a slower internet, though these charges wouldn’t be limited to just the consumer.
  • Let’s take Netflix as an example. As Netflix is a data-heavy streaming site, ISPs would charge the company more money to continue streaming movies and TV shows to its customers. This would then mean that Netflix would need to raise its subscriptions fees, thus making its service more expensive in the process.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler during yesterday’s vote for net neutrality.

  • ISPs in the US already greatly benefit from a lack of competition while the consumer suffers, and a vote against net neutrality would have only heightened that problem. ISPs would be able to pick and choose which websites loaded faster, effectively driving out smaller companies that couldn’t afford to pay up the extra charges.
  • In May 2014, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler introduced a new ruling that allowed paid internet fast lanes to be installed, though with the caveat that an ISP could not legally “block lawful content,” nor slow it down. However, this ruling didn’t really work as ISPs were still legally within their rights to make certain sites load faster, thus making other sites slower by comparison.
  • Fast-forward to February 26th, 2015 and the FCC backtracked on its initial proposal, holding a vote to see whether net neutrality should stay. Fortunately for everybody other than ISPs, the internet will now remain as open as it always has been. Internet providers are now labeled as common carriers, and unable to deal with the loss they’re inevitably looking to sue. But that’s not our problem… at least for now.

So what does this mean for you? Essentially, it means nothing. You can continue to use the internet just as you were yesterday, and the day before that. However, now you needn’t worry about those pesky ISPs spoiling your fun by charging you more to use exactly the same service, whilst simultaneously nullifying your current price plan by charging you extra depending upon the amount of data you use, and asking web-based companies to fork out extra in order to cover the cost of the data you use, thus incurring further charges for their users.

Everything will remain just as expensive as it has done in the past, but at least it won’t get even more expensive.

Photos: Getty Images