US Federal Communications Commission votes 3-to-2 to allow ISPs to now charge different prices for different internet speeds and access.
Regulations that were put in place under President Barack Obama sought to ensure that all internet users had access to the “same” internet, but a party-line vote on December 14th repealed those regulations. These rules prevented ISPs from blocking access to certain websites or slowing down service speeds for certain customers. Essentially, the concept of net neutrality was that if you paid for it, it was yours, regardless of how you choose to surf the web.
Now, thanks to attempts to remove a great number of regulations that the former administration put in place – and in spite of vocal protest from major websites and consumers alike – the FCC voted 3-to-2 along party lines (Republican to Democrat) to allow ISPs to now charge different prices for different speeds and access.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
Numerous examples of the harm this can cause have circulated in the weeks approaching the vote. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai openly stated that this will allow broadband providers to offer different pricing structures so that anyone who only wants “a little bit of internet” won’t pay as much has someone who lives a predominantly digital life. If you only need email, ISPs can create a package for that. If you wish to add social media, there can now be another charge. Adding streaming video services–even ones for which you already pay a fee, such as Hulu or Netflix–can now cost you extra.
Congress to save the day?
Speaking of Netflix, the company as already issued its statement of severe disappointment in the FCC and the current administration for this move. While this is a potential door-slam to consumers who wish to use the internet without restriction based on who their ISP is (an important feature since major telecom companies in the US currently hold geographic monopolies), there is a still a chance that Congress can take action and undo this.