The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will finish taking the first round of comments on its proposal to regulate the Internet on Friday, July 18. People wanting to leave a comment, however, can still leave one until September.
The decision the FCC has to make has become very controversial because it will affect how Internet service providers are able to charge content providers. Comcast and Verizon are pushing to allow Internet service providers to charge content providers based on the amount of traffic they generate. This would create what people on both sides of this debate have referred to as a “fast lane”; a level of Internet service that would allow some content providers to get much quicker delivery than others.
Critics charge that this will allow content providers and websites in general with more money an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Calling it pay for play, critics also bring up different ways that ISPs have changed the nature of the services that they deliver to customers by discriminating against one type of Internet protocol or another. For example, encrypted file transfers have been slowed by some ISPs, Comcast was caught throttling traffic on peer-to-peer networks and the company Verizon ended up getting fined by the FCC as a result of charging customers for using internet-enabled mobile phones as hotspots for other devices.
The people opposed to Comcast and Verizon want the Internet service providers to deliver services without discriminating against any type of traffic. One of the solutions that they have proposed is changing the way Internet service providers are classified. The idea is to change the classification of Internet service providers so that they are classified as telecommunications providers, which gives the FCC a set of tools that they can work with to regulate the companies.
The fear opponents have is that allowing ISPs to decide which traffic gets priority could end up creating a situation where the innovation that the Internet has become famous for is unnecessarily stifled. Because companies that are already large and established would be able to afford fast lane Internet delivery and smaller companies would not, the smaller companies may never get a chance to compete on their own merits.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has set up a website where you can participate in the debate. There have been a huge number of comments filed about this matter by Internet users already and it doesn’t seem to be slowing at present.
• Dear FCC Website — https://dearfcc.org/