Last week, the FCC voted to start the repeal of Obama’s key internet policy of net neutrality.
What does it mean?
In 2015, broadband internet was reclassified as a vital utility, subjecting it to heavier regulations. The idea was to prevent the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from abusing their authority to discriminate against lawful content.The FCC’s vote to repeal these rules would probably allow the ISPs to manipulate data speeds and discriminate between online content/services.
Changing telecom landscape is sparking debate about consumer protection on the internet
Recently, multiple carriers/ISPs have moved to digital media. For eg. Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal. This inclusion of content service to their offerings portfolio is creating a conflict of interest for the ISPs and incentivising them to promote own/ partner content services at the cost of independent content providers.
Network providers like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T would be obvious beneficiaries of the vote as they could easily make more profits by charging a premium to certain users or promoting own content. For eg., Verizon might offer free data to customers for use of certain services(own or content partners). Also, lighter regulation could encourage more investments in ISP network infrastructure upgrades to provide better services. Big corporations like Macy’s could also benefit to an extent. For eg., Macy could contract with AT&T for faster loading time vs a smaller apparel provider’s website. Consumers could possibly benefit from added competition in data provision but smaller websites, startups could easily be sidelined by bigger corporations.
Read more about these stakeholders here