FCC Set To Dismantle Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission released a plan on Tuesday to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites. – NY Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/technology/fcc-net-neutrality.html)

Net Neutrality regulations were put in place to ensure that our service providers are nothing more than carriers of our data services. Over the years in which these regulations have existed, which began sometime in the early 2000s, providers have repeatedly disregarded them or used excuses to cover up their actions. It is clear that these principles of Internet service are protecting the consumer.  There have numerous reports and judicial cases wherein people provided evidence of more than one provider limiting bandwidth, blocking services, or charging higher rates for users to access certain services. These instances have happened with regulations in place.  That means that if they are rolled back, then providers will gouge their customers and, in some cases, leave them without the services they enjoy. That is exactly what the current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is considering at this time.  It has caused quite a rucous among the technical enthusiasts (geeks), business leaders (except those that are service providers), and most people with common sense.

Net neutrality provided for the maintenance of networks, as one would expect is necessary for the day to day operations of a provider.  For instance, testing changes to networks and applying quality of service measures in order to ensure reliable service are actions which are quite normal.  However, the repealing of these principles by the FCC would allow these companies to do far more than ensure reliability.  It would give them the ability to overcharge their subscribers.  Many believe this will lead to paywalls where providers only allow you to see websites or categories of websites if you pay more each month.  For instance, just like you might pay a premium for HBO, your Internet provider could charge you a special fee for the purpose of visiting social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.  What is to stop them if these regulations are repealed?

What if providers decide to charge more for OTT (over the top) cable services like Playstation Vue or DirecTV NOW just as consumers are making huge waves by moving to these services?  That could drastically change the course for the Internet. As of the last couple of days, the popular site Reddit has been covered in banners and comments related to stopping this move by the FCC.  There have been some people claiming to work for the FCC that are asking consumers to step up the fight and ensure that these changes do not take place. I have worked as a network engineer, and I understand that there are things that providers must be allowed to do to ensure reliability and performance for their user base.  That does not mean that we should accept their overreaching restrictions.  At this point, the providers all want control and the ability to make more money off of the consumer while providing less value.  We should not let this happen. I urge you to read up and find ways to become involved to ensure that the FCC makes the right decision and protects the consumer.


Author: Phil

Phil Williams is an engineer with around 20 years of information technology industry experience with past focus areas in security, performance, and compliance monitoring and reporting. Phil is a husband, father of 6 children, and an avid geek who loves building computers, gaming, and gadgets. He has an undergraduate degree in general IT sciences and has worked with the US Government as a contractor for over 20 years. He is now in a security solutions advisory role for a large vendor supporting commercial and enterprise customers.

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