3 things you need to know about Net Neutrality

The FCC ruled today in favor of Net Neutrality. In doing so, the government ruled the Internet is a Title II utility under the 1934 Telecommunications Act. Net Neutrality solidifies rules against Internet Service Provider behavior like paid prioritization (“fast lanes”), website blocking, and traffic throttling. In other words, Net Neutrality favors consumers over Comcast.

Responses to the ruling have ranged from the hysterical, to the surprised, to the wary.

Twitter supported Net Neutrality on the company blog,

Safeguarding the historic open architecture of the Internet and the ability for all users to `innovate without permission’ is critical to American economic aspirations and our nation’s global competitiveness.




Under net neutrality principles, consumers decide which lawful content, applications, and services they want to create, access or share with others. Currently, the Internet provides an almost frictionless experience for an individual to communicate with the world, and it also provides the lowest barrier to competitive entry for businesses the world has ever seen. It serves as a great equalizer in the access to information and in reaching a global audience. If you have an opinion or a new innovative web-based service, you don’t have to get permission to share it with the world at large.

If you want to find out good information about Net Neutrality politicians are the wrong place to go. The best place to find out what Net Neutrality is and means is to research technology writers. Here are three things you need to know about today’s decision.

1. Net Neutrality was not invented by the Obama administration to “fix” the Internet.

NN was first proposed by Tim Wu. Wired notes:

First proposed in [Wu’s] June 2002 memo, net neutrality decreed that internet service providers must treat all traffic equally, and let users do what they wished with their bandwidth. This led to FCC rules that not only prevented ISPs from blocking content, but barred them from discriminating against traffic in other ways.




Wu wrote his original net neutrality brief three years before the creation of YouTube. Back then, the internet was a jaggedy, annoying, and rather slow operation, and the net neutrality movement was largely an effort to prevent internet service providers from blocking some rather basic online tools: voice-over-internet-protocol services such as Skype, virtual private networks that let you securely connect to corporate servers, and even home wireless routers. “In the old contract, AT&T defined it as a federal offense to attach a Wi-Fi router,’ Wu says.

If AT&T had had their way having a Wi-fi router in your house would have been akin to destroying a smoke detector on an American airliner.

2. Net Neutrality is not government control of the Internet.

NN is the idea that Comcast, U-Verse, Time-Warner, etc, cannot control the Internet. Robert McMillan writes:

You see, the FCC didn’t unveil net neutrality today. It has backed the idea of net neutrality for about a decade. That’s why your internet service provider doesn’t already charge you extra for running Skype or a virtual private network, or even a router.

What’s changing here is the way the FCC is classifying broadband internet. And the reason this is happening is because the courts have told the FCC that it simply can’t enforce net neutrality unless it does this.

This means the George W. Bush’s FCC viewed NN just like Obama’s FCC. Farther back, it treats broadband like DSL, which reaches back to the 1990s. Net Neutrality provides the boundaries to keep ISPs from ruining the Internet.

3. Net Neutrality will not create a slow, poorly functioning Internet.

Just no. Our current condition puts most American cities well behind international cities in both Internet speed and value. Then McMillan again:

[W]hen cable industry lobbying groups such as Broadband For America argue that Wheeler’s proposal “could have spillover effects into the broader Internet ecosystem and threaten Silicon Valley companies that rely heavily on the Internet,” take that with a grain of salt.

Net Neutrality will allow for that thing all people say they want: More competition.

DiMA members believe that competition benefits consumers and creators of information, and that anticompetitive behavior by content owners or networks owners should be challenged. DiMA supports network neutrality principles first presented by the High-Tech Broadband Coalition, which essentially state that consumers should be entitled to access lawful Internet content of their choice, run applications over the network that they choose, and attach devices to the network that they choose, so long as the content, applications and devices do not harm the network and so long as the consumer’s stays within the limits of a chosen planís bandwidth and quality of service.

Of course anytime the government gets involved bad things can happen. The Law of Unintended Consequences seems to be carved in the Capitol cornerstone. But, this seems to be one time when the government decision favors the people over Big Business, and, if we are vigilant not to allow overreach, the Internet will remain a level playing field.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • I hope you’re right. I literally have paid no attention to this at all.

    • martyduren

      I hope I’m right, too. ;^)