UPDATE 3/12: Today, the FCC released the complete Open Internet Order, which are the standing rules for the net neutrality act that classified the Internet as a public utility last month. The standing rules prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from offering faster service for payment or throttling online traffic.
These rules are directed at Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp., which have been guilty of throttling traffic and offering higher speeds for more money. The next phase of the new Open Internet Order will be to publish it in the Federal Register, and the FCC fully expects lawsuits from ISPs griping about the new rules.
Yesterday, as expected, the FCC passed new so-called "net neutrality" rules that classify the Internet as a public utility under Title II. Net neutrality is a very important issue that I've written about pretty extensively over the last year or so. If you need a primer, click here to read 3 things you need to know about net neutrality.
To sum up yesterday's decision, the five member FCC committee voted 3-2 to pass the Open Internet Order. This is a set of rules that the FCC plans to use to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs). The big change is that now the FCC will treat ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. That means the Internet has now been classified as a public utility, kind of like your phone, gas and electric services.
Just like phone and electric companies can't charge more for more reliable service, or interrupt or interfere with your service to strong-arm you into paying more, now the ISPs are prevented from doing that with your Internet. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement:
While some other countries try to control the Internet, the action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control a free and open access to the Internet.
But these new regulations have been met with fierce criticism. Is the chairman speaking on the level? Or do these new rules have hidden consequences?