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FCC's net neutrality rules struck down - what it means for gaming and streaming

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Some big news today out of Washington, as a federal appeals court has struck down the FCC's rules for Net neutrality, which essentially allows internet provides to regulate broadband access.

The Net neutrality rules were adopted in 2011, which stopped broadband providers from blocking competing traffic on their networks, such as Netflix and Hulu, which are obviously competition for TV providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. According to CNET, the fear was that Comcast could for example, slow down your internet when using Netflix, since it competes with its own on-demand service.

The FCC adopted its Net neutrality rules in 2011. These rules essentially state that broadband providers cannot block competing traffic on their network or discriminate against another company's services that ride over its network in order to benefit its own competing services.

The networks however argue that these streaming services can clog up their networks and they ensure that consumers won't be stopped from accessing any specific content online.

"One thing is for sure: today's decision will not change consumers' ability to access and use the Internet as they do now," said Randal Milch, Verizon's executive vice president. "The court's decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet. Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet which provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want."

What will this mean for consumers? Well the fear is surely that the ruling could allow these broadband companies to create new streams by charging streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) a fee for delivering their content over their network, which would make for tiered internet use, as we already see on mobile networks, and Verizon's comments certainly seem to show an openness for such a thing.

"The D.C. Circuit's decision is alarming for all Internet users," Harvey Anderson, senior vice president of business and legal affairs for Mozilla, said in a statement. "Thanks to a legal technicality, essential protections for user choice and online innovation are gone. Giving Internet service providers the legal ability to block any service they choose from reaching end users will undermine a once free and unbiased Internet. In order to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Internet, Mozilla strongly encourages the FCC and Congress to act in all haste to correct this error."

Only time will tell how the decision will ultimately affect consumers, but this can't be good.


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