By Mintimer Avila |Online Editor| The quest for speed could translate into higher fees for some internet access.
Internet providers want to create discriminatory practices that would charge some users more than others because they happen to stream more or go online for long periods of time.
The most aggressive company fighting for these changes is Verizon.
Verizon is just one of many companies that wants to earn a profit from its users that consume these large amounts of data.
Netflix has become the leading choice for online streaming and consumes as much as one third of traffic on the Internet during peak times, according to CNN.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed new rules due to pressure from various companies that would allow Internet service providers to charge consumers an extra fee to use certain online services on their network.
Net neutrality allows consumers to freely do what they like for a standard monthly fee. However, Under these new rules, users would be charged extra fees on top of their current fees.
Consumers that pay these extra fees would be given access to a “fast lane” while everyone else would have their connection either slowed down or not load at all.
The FCC is scheduled to vote on these changes on May 15 but the FCC Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworce, is arguing that this meeting should be delayed for at least a month.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing to change the rules that broadband falls under from Title I to Title II.
Title I is reserved for “information services” and is preferred by industries because the FCC can’t regulate these services as heavily.
Under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, broadband would have to follow all of the regulations that are set in place for telephone systems.
Internet service providers would be treated like “common carriers” that would be forced to act in the public’s interest, according to Gizmodo, a technology website.
Discrimination in charges, practices, regulations and facilities would therefore be forbidden.
This proposal, however, had been appealed by the U.S court since last January because the Internet had already been defined as an information service and not a common carrier. This prevented the FCC from imposing such rules.
“If anyone acts to degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few, I intend to use every available power to stop it. Using every power also includes using Title II, if necessary. If we get to a situation where arrival of the “next Google” or the “next Amazon” is being delayed or deterred, we will act as necessary using the full panoply of our authority,” said Wheeler.
Former FCC commissioner, Julius Genachowski, highlighted some of the dangers of removing net neutrality in a statement made in 2010.
Genachowski argues that prioritizing access to users could reduce the profit that edge providers, or companies that invest and innovate would earn.
An example of this would be a major Internet provider slowing down rival websites so that their partners would gain the most traffic due to better load times.
Smaller start-up companies would need to pay large fees to reach the consumer and could potentially put them at a financial disadvantage.
He adds that broadband providers would have an incentive to degrade the quality of service provided to those that have not paid these fees.
This could result in providers cornering smaller companies by refusing to upgrade their network resulting in low quality transmission until they pay the increased cost.
The end result would be large fees for both the consumers and the companies that provide online services while ISPs would continue to earn money.
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