What the Net Neutrality Repeal Means for Consumers

Net neutrality was designed to keep the communication of information across the internet on equal footing. Net neutrality regulated internet services to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from:

  • Blocking lawful sites
  • Prioritizing certain sites
  • Controlling site bandwidth speeds based on pay
  • Offering access to sites based on pay

How Net Neutrality Began

In 1934, the Communications Act was implemented as statutory guidelines for regulating the interstate transfer of information through telecommunications and broadcasting. The 1934 Act made communication services such as telephone, telegraph and radio affordable and readily available to everyone in the United States. Throughout the last century, the original Communications Act evolved to incorporate changing technology into net neutrality regulations. On December 14th, 2017, net neutrality was overturned.

Impact on Consumers

What does the recent repeal of net neutrality mean for consumers? The following are possible pros and cons that may result from the removal of net neutrality. None of the pros or cons are guaranteed outcomes. What will become of post net neutrality internet services is still unknown.

Pros

– ISPs will be able to charge website providers more for various services providing them with additional funds that could be used to build more/better fiber networks

– Improvements and expansion of the ISPs fiber networks may provide consumers with faster internet speeds for less money

Cons

– ISPs could block any lawful websites at their own discretion

  • ISPs have stated they will not block lawful websites, but there is no way to regulate this promise
  • ISPs could potentially block competitor websites, or websites whose message they do not agree with

– ISPs could offer websites prioritization based on pay

  • Small businesses may not be able to afford the prioritization fees and could be knocked out of the market by larger companies who have the capital to pay for top billing

– ISPs can now subjectively determine bandwidth speeds across their networks

  • Websites providers that create a lot of network traffic, like Netflix, may have to pay more for bandwidth, which could lead to the increase of fees for those websites’ consumers
  • ISPs could reserve faster network lanes for their own media websites giving them an advantage over competitor sites

– ISPs could choose to charge consumers for different tiers of internet access, with certain websites only being available with the purchase of a specific internet access tier

The Future for Net Neutrality

The FCC vote does not necessarily mean the end of net neutrality. There is a way for the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality to be overturned through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA vote only requires a simple majority to overturn agency decisions. If overturned by Congress, the net neutrality repeal would be undone and the FCC would no longer be able to make changes regarding net neutrality and the classification of ISPs. The President does have the power to veto any CRA resolutions passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives.

There is currently talk of filing a CRA resolution to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality repeal. The resolution would then need to win a simple majority of Congress and survive the President’s veto power. If the CRA resolution fails, then it is possible that a bill regarding new internet service regulations could be brought before Congress and passed. At this time, American consumers are faced with a multitude of unknowns regarding the future of internet services. Contact an Anders advisor to learn how Anders Technology Services can benefit your business.