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FCC To Roll Back Its Previous Net Neutrality Ruling: What You Need To Know

FCC To Roll Back Its Previous Net Neutrality Ruling: What You Need To Know


It seems that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be rolling back its previous stand regarding Net Neutrality, which could have a significant impact on how people (and business establishments) consume the Internet. 

It was more than a couple of years ago when the agency voted to reclassify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service, which delighted supporters of Net Neutrality. But a few days ago, the FCC has announced its intentions of recategorizing broadband as a Title I information service, which could possibly allow Internet providers to start prioritizing services or content by manipulating web traffic and connection speeds. New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had made the announcement, saying that the new move is more consistent with the facts and the law, as compared to what the agency have previously decided on back in 2015. With this move, broadband will be classified back to its original Title I category, which was first created through the passing of the Telecommunications Act back in 1996.

So how does this affect things? In the FCC’s 2015 ruling, the agency had established an Internet conduct standard, so to speak, that tries to monitor Internet service providers as well as minimize unfair business practices. By grouping broadband as a Title II service, providers were prevented from setting up fast web lanes for sponsored web pages or services, by slowing web traffic to competing content. Because of this reclassification, broadband service providers were not able to push consumers towards certain users, stop people from gaining access to legal content, or charge for priority access to specific websites.

Interestingly, even with the FCC’s 2015 ruling, a number of mobile operators still managed to launch zero rated and sponsored data deals, like T-Mobile with its Music Freedom and Binge On streaming services, Verizon Wireless with its FreeBee data, and AT&T with its Sponsored Data. But wireless carriers will even be more happy now that Donald Trump is in power -- the FCC under his administration will surely allow service providers to offer more similar zero rated and sponsored data deals. 

Still, it bears noting that everything has not been finalized yet. The FCC will still vote on the full proposal in a month’s time. And even if the agency votes to uphold the proposal, it will still be subject to public scrutiny. Moreover, it is a good bet that consumer watchdogs, Internet defenders, and net neutrality advocates will not just stand idly by while the FCC has its way.