FCC and Net Neutrality

03 Dec

This ties in nicely with my posting on the crap being flung between Netflix’s instant provider, Level 3, and Comcast.

On December 1st, 2010, Gizmodo posted this article. Today, the FCC chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a speech that essentially showed the FCC’s current stance on Net Neutrality. For the most part the things being said are good and beneficial to the consumers. Prior to this I was beginning to think the FCC no longer had a pair, everything they’ve been wanting to accomplish in regards to Net Neutrality has been shot down time and time again.

The FCC had plenty of might and muscle flexing a few years back when they started cracking down on various radio and TV broadcasts that contained obscene material. Sure, there all on top of censoring content but when it comes to truly protecting the consumers and not just their oh so fragile eyes and ears they couldn’t get a thing done. My guess is that this time around it’s harder to get the higher-ups to understand why what is going on is a danger to the internet as they probably don’t know enough about it.

Either way, the FCC will be voting on the issue on December 21st, 2010. Here’s where they currently stand and what it how it affects you.

  • Anti-competitive practices such as blocking or slowing down the traffic of content will no longer be allowed.
    • GOOD – This ties right in with the Netflix/Level 3/Comcast fiasco. If Level 3 chose not to pay Comcast’s fee, today, they could choose to block their backbone entirely. This would disrupt not only Netflix’s instant watch service, but any customer’s attached to the Level 3 backbone. This would no longer be allowed. Furthermore Comcast couldn’t even throttle the traffic in an attempt to make their on demand services appear more reliable.
  • Essentially a green-light will be given to tiered service levels.
    • NEUTRAL – Whether this is good or bad depends entirely on how you use the internet. If you only use the internet for Email and light web surfing, it’s good as your requirement for bandwidth is low possibly leading to a lower cost per month for you. On the other hand, if you’re a heavy bandwidth user utilizing P2P, online gaming, and/or streaming HD movies you’ll be charged a much higher rate for your utilization. Now you may be thinking, “well that makes sense, use more of something, pay more.” But, let’s not forget that providers can get greedy, who’s to say that they don’t start the lowest bandwidth users out at $50 a month and go up from there. Nothing is to say that they’ll get some super low $5 a month internet connection. And to top this all off, more and more people are flocking to streaming of content, the subsection of customers in that low-bandwidth category will get smaller and smaller, as will the number of customers who find the tiered option a benefit to them. Obviously if this happened you could choose to find alternate providers, if they are available, which in many areas is not the case.
  • Separate, non-public internet channels will be allowed.
    • NEUTRAL – Many have said that this could lead to private, clones of the internet, with different services and sites which would defeat the purpose of having a single worldwide network. However, Genachowski has mentioned that these networks would have to be approved by the FCC before being allowed online and would have to be justified to gain such approval.

At the moment the neutrality of wireless (cellular) internet access was not spoken of in great detail. Tiered plans are already in effect on many providers plans and most consumers hate them. Beyond that its hard to say what will happen.

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Posted by on December 3, 2010 in General


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