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Net neutrality is dead: What happens now?

Net neutrality is dead: What happens now?
From Engadget - December 14, 2017

There are three major players caught in net neutrality's web: Tech companies, ISPs and consumers. The first two groups have the same goal: make money. The final group, consumers, has a rival goal: save money. And even though tech companies and ISPs both dream of the same conclusion, they are on opposite sides of the financial food chain here, with disparate views on net neutrality.

Take Google for example. Now that net neutrality rules have been dismantled, the internet monolith faces the possibility of paying higher fees to access high-speed (meaning, the same speeds they have enjoyed for the past two years) lanes. This is one reason Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and other major companies have been so loudly, fervently opposed to the destruction of net neutrality: They want to make money, and paying higher fees does not compute with this goal. Meanwhile, small ISPs hoping to enter the market would face these same elevated prices for faster connections, potentially stifling innovation at the onset.

ISPs, on the other hand, want the ability to charge these higher fees. Not only does today's FCC's ruling open the path for ISPs to institute multiple internet speed lanes, but it also allows them to engage in previously banned practices like throttling, blocking and paid prioritization. Throttling, for instance, would allow a company like Comcast to slow speeds down on certain apps or sites, thereby nudging people toward alternative services. Comcast is the largest ISP in the US and it happens to own NBCUniversal, which has a controlling stake in Hulu. If Comcast wants to give Hulu an edge over Netflix, it's now free to slow down speeds just for Netflix. Hell, it could even block the service entirely.

ISPs are now required to report when they engage in practices like throttling or paid prioritization, and the FCC and FTC have promised to investigate those reports as they roll in. However, there's a loophole here: If ISPs can classify any of these moves as "reasonable network management," they do not have to report them at all, leaving customers in the dark as to why their Netflix shows suddenly look likes**t. Major ISPs have attempted to legitimize throttling in the past, and they now have a green light from the US government to do so on a large scale, free from regulation.

Everyday internet users lose power -- meaning, access to information -- with the repeal of net neutrality. Today's decision eliminates reporting requirements that were mandated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This means ISPs no longer have to report "packet loss, geographically-specific disclosures and performance at peak usage times, among other things," as the FCC finds these requirements "burdensome."

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