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Net Neutrality: Not Nearly so Neutral, Now

Submitted by guest contributor Sam McFarlin

The U.S. Court of Appeals struck down important parts of the FCC’s Open Internet policy in a ruling on the Verizon vs FCC case in January.

This policy defined the rules of net neutrality, a concept which requires all Internet service providers (ISP) to make Internet content available at equal speeds to every user.  Without this requirement in place, companies can require Internet services and entities to pay in order to be accessible by customers.

An example of this would be if an ISP, Comcast, throttled the speed at which a user can stream content from a video streaming service, like Netflix, unless the service were to pay money to get preferential bandwidth.

According to Netflix, this example actually occurred.  Netflix accused Comcast of reducing the amount of bandwidth their customers received when using Netflix.  Since the loss of net neutrality, similar instances have occurred with different companies.  Many mobile services like AT&T and Verizon are blocking competitor apps like Google Wallet mobile, and Comcast charged customers for streaming video through Xbox.

Since the court ruling, the FCC has been attempting to construct a new policy for net neutrality, but has yet to find a resolution that will please everyone involved.  Internet users and large companies are rallying to try and support an open and free Internet.  An initial petition to restore the original policy acquired over one million signatures before being presented to the FCC, but was shot down.  More recently, a large coalition led by Amazon, Microsoft, and other large companies sent a letter to the FCC challenging the most recent FCC proposal that would allow large companies to commercialize the Internet.

Despite Netflix originally supporting the idea of net neutrality, it seems as though they do not expect it to be remedied any time soon.  The streaming company recently made deals with both Verizon and Comcast to allow for preferential streaming to their customers.

 

Interesting (subjective) video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc2aso6W7jQ

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