I'm sure you heard something about net neutrality in the past few months. If you haven't, here's a quick refresher. When broken down, net neutrality means that Internet service providers (ISP) treat every website on the Internet equally. ISPs are the ones responsible for "the last mile" of Internet access. That's the bit that goes from the big Internet backbone servers to your computer.
That means that in theory ISPs can control what you see and how fast you see it. However, under net neutrality, ISPs have to treat a small mom-and-pop website the same as giants like Google or Netflix.
So what is all the fuss about? There's the fear that small businesses that can't afford to pay for better service won't be able to compete with large businesses.
This could be the most important net neutrality story so far. Reports are coming out that the FCC has come to a decision on how to regulate the Internet going forward. Will it side with the corporations who favor little to no restrictions on so-called "fast lanes" or with the people who want a free and open Internet?
The New York Times is reporting that the FCC is looking to reclassify broadband service as a Title II telecommunications service. That means that the FCC will have more power to make sure ISPs "don’t sell faster Internet service to well-monied bidders at the expense of smaller Internet companies."
“If true, this is excellent news and a vital step in the right direction,” Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick in a blog post today. “… This is the only way to adopt meaningful network neutrality rules that will be upheld in court.”
But not everyone is happy with this decision.
Many Republicans, and the vast majority of big ISPs, like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, have said they oppose the move, saying that it will stifle investment and innovation in the space. AT&T went so far as to make a public statement that it would cut back on investment to its wireless network if the Internet were reclassified under Title II.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to present his plan to his colleagues at the FCC on Thursday and it's expected to set off all types of new arguments and proposed policy changes. Stay tuned to what's Happening Now for all the latest as it breaks.