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The FCC proposes a game changer to net neutrality rules

Special Screening Of Netflix's "House Of Cards" Season 2- Red Carpet
Special Screening Of Netflix's "House Of Cards" Season 2- Red Carpet
Photo by Kevin Winter

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

Out the window went the premise that 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 FCC 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 FCC.

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 Jan. 16 in a case brought by Comcast vs. the FCC, 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 FCC’s new rules will allow for net neutrality in alignment with the appeals court last Jan. The Internet was left open to special arrangements from that ruling.

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 from this proposal. Consumer groups immediately criticized the FCC on the premise that higher costs would be transferred to the consumer.

The proposed rules will be released to the public on May 15. The debate can continue as it has for over the past decade since 2002, when the FCC 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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