FCC Net Neutrality Vote—Fast Lanes Coming?

On May 15, 2014, the FCC voted along party lines in favor of a proposal that would permit Internet Service Providers to charger higher fees to those who seek to deliver higher quality content to U.S. consumers—the so-called “fast lane” plan. This would jeopardize the concept of net neutrality.

The idea behind net neutrality is that ISPs should charge all websites the same fees to deliver content through the Internet. The idea of the fast lane service would be to permit ISPs to charge higher fees to companies like Netflix and YouTube, whose streaming content consumes considerable bandwidth.

The vote is not a final outcome, however. The proposed rule change will be open to receive public comment until September. Many high tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, have strongly protested against the fast lane idea. (As of late July, over a million comments had been filed with the FCC.)

As to the proposed rule’s effect on consumers, practically speaking, there is none at the moment. There have been no net neutrality rules in effect for months since a court of appeals reject the FCC’s old net neutrality rules in January, 2014. There has been no public outcry that traffic has slowed down or been blocked by ISPs. The final decision will not be announced until November, probably after the mid-term elections.

The pros and cons of net neutrality have been widely discussed and debated. Viewers can expect more discussion as the date for the decision draws nearer.

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