US Gov. rules to regulate ISPs like telephone companies

Global Business

In a landmark decision out of Washington, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) will be regulated as a public utility.

While the ruling overturns state laws that protect ISPs from local competition, there are opponents. The idea is called net neutrality which has become a buzzword meaning providers can’t slow or block web traffic, or create paid fast lanes. Those who disagree say it gives the U.S. government too much power.

CCTV’s Jessica Stone filed this report from Washington.

U.S. Gov. rules to regulate ISPs like telephone companies

U.S. Gov. rules to regulate ISPs like telephone companies

In a landmark decision out of Washington, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) will be regulated as a public utility. While the ruling overturns state laws that protect ISPs from local competition, there are opponents. The idea is called net neutrality which has become a buzzword meaning providers can't slow or block web traffic, or create paid fast lanes. Those who disagree say it gives the U.S. government too much power. CCTV's Jessica Stone filed this report from Washington.

For three decades the infrastructure in the U.S. which powers the Internet has grown as a separate entity from the services which are hosted in it. Content providers using higher speeds don’t pay more for that expanded bandwidth used.

Thursday, a narrow majority of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to keep it that way, deciding to regulate the Internet just like cable or telephone companies.

It means Internet service providers won’t be allowed to slow down or block web traffic. They also won’t be allowed to create paid fast lanes on the Internet.

Advocates for Internet start-ups and technology entrepreneurs said most Internet innovation like SKYPE and streaming video is successful because Internet providers can’t charge them extra.

David Farber, a former FCC technologist and now professor at Carnegie Mellon University believes free video calls like those made using applications such as Skype could potentially cost more under these new rules.

“I think it’s likely some country will try to say: well look that’s a telephone call. We’re going to charge for termination of a Skype call and any connection charges with that,” Farber said.

But advocates for Internet startups and technology entrepreneurs say most Internet innovation — from Skype to streaming video — is directly because Internet providers can’t charge them extra. Evan Engstrom, policy director at a nonprofit which advocates for startups, says technology entrepreneurs see the FCC’s decision as a victory for innovation.

“If we didn’t have net neutrality regulations, the next Skype might not ever come to fruition, and you might not have that robust competition that’s created these great services that are low cost,” Engstrom said.

The regulations will become effective in the next few months, but it’s far from a done deal. The decision is expected to face court challenges from Internet service providers.

  • The video streaming service and Cable TV alternative Netflix had this to say:

    “Netflix believes that achieving strong net neutrality is critical to maintaining a vibrant, open Internet to promote free expression, diversity of content, and continued innovation.”

  • The ISP and media corporation Comcast responded by saying:

    “An open Internet stimulates competition, promotes innovation, fosters job creation, and drives business.”

  • U.S. Telecommunications company Verizon submitted this statement:
    verizon net neut statement
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