FCC to Frame New Rules for Internet Neutrality

The Paralegal Resource
March 17, 2014 — 815 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

In January, a US court turned down the open Internet regulations of the Federal Communications Commission or FCC, throwing a new challenge to the commission to create new neutral regulations for the Internet. The Commission is now gathering public opinion as a first step towards issuing fresh regulations.

The new ones would ensure that Internet service providers would not be able to block websites, and would ensure ISPs reveal how traffic is managed. These new rules would ensure that there is no bias when it comes to traffic management. The FCC is also planning to overturn the curbs that local governments have imposed on broadband services, thereby increasing a sense of competition among service providers.

Network management and freedom

There are firms such as Time Warner Cable and Verizon which have argued that because huge money has been spent on infrastructure upgradation, companies should be given a free rein when it comes to managing their networks. These two broadband companies are seeking to give Amazon and Netflix faster access to customers, albeit at a cost.

In general, regulators have been averse to such transactions and say big and wealthy companies will then have an advantage over others. But there are worries that regulations could stem innovations. Consumer activists have often spoken in favor of FCC because they believe that ISPs should not be allowed to give better services to those companies that have the wherewithal to shell out more money. This extra expenditure may be passed on to consumers, according to activists. Comcast’s announcement about its plan to acquire Time Warner Cable would mean a joint company that would cater to one-third of US cable and Internet subscribers in the United States. The deal, which is likely to be cemented at a cost of $45 billion, has raised alarm bells among regulators.

Will the big players win?

Netflix and Comcast recently said that they have entered into an accord wherein the latter will increase speeds of streaming by making a payment which would allow Netflix to directly access Comcast’s broadband. Earlier, traffic was delivered indirectly through intervention from a third party. Other companies like Microsoft and Facebook also have deals with big players in the ISP space, though FCC won’t be addressing such deals.

There are commentators who see companies paying up for better access as sensible. They point out that this won’t make a huge impact on the consumer. The FCC has not committed any new rules to paper yet, but will hope to do so by the beginning of summer after public opinion is sought about the new framework.

The Paralegal Resource