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F.C.C. proposal for new rules on net neutrality

Washington provided for some shake up in policy today provided by the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.). Net neutrality has been a heated debate over the past months and today the F.C.C. proposed ‘new rules’, according to the New York Times on Wednesday.

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Photo by Joe Raedle

Out the window went all Internet content is equal as it flows through the cable channels to consumers without favoritism. That basic belief is now under remodeling of policy from the F.C.C. late Wednesday that the big box companies like Disney, Google or Netflix will pay Internet service providers as a Verizon or Comcast higher fees for the fast lane. Consumers will get their ‘Houses of Cards on Netflix from the fast lane which was bought at a higher rate fee.

The 'net neutrality' rule, which included all Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication, is now usurped by a two tier status proposed by the F.C.C.

Federal regulators had tried to prevent those deals, saying they would give large, rich companies an unfair edge in reaching consumers. But since the Internet is not considered a utility under federal law, the federal district court said last a case brought by Comcast vs. the F.C.C., it is not subject to regulations banning the arrangements.

Now three months later Tom Wheeler, the F.C.C. chairman, defended the agency’s plans late Wednesday, when he stated that the F.C.C'’s new rules will allow for net neutrality in alignment with the appeals court last Jan.

When the Wall Street Journal broke the news late Wednesday regarding the proposed two-tiered system, it raised the question if the wealthy companies would provide the content and service to the market of consumers at the cost of the younger, less capitalized firms. The Journal reported that there would be preferential treatment. Consumer groups immediately criticized the F.C.C. and higher costs would be transferred to the consumer.

Michael J. Copps, a former F.C.C. commissioner is working with the nonprofit advocacy group Common Cause to keep net-neutrality safeguards in place, while big telecommunications and entertainment companies have spent millions to lobby for rules that would allow them to fast track their online streaming of entertainment,

The F.C.C.’s plan “is a lot closer to what they wanted than what we wanted,” Copps said in a phone interview to the New York Times. “It reflects a lot more input from them," he added and continues to say that, “the courts did not tell Chairman Wheeler to take the road that he is reportedly taking.”

The proposed rules will be released to the public on May 15. The debate can continue as it has over the past decade since 2002 when the F.C.C. set up its rules on guidance for the Internet. The likelihood is that a vote by the commission will occur later in the year.

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