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Federal Communications Commission vote nears on future of net neutrality

Posted at 6:25 AM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-28 16:29:53-05

The Federal Communications Commission will vote in two weeks on whether to repeal the net neutrality regulations that have been in place since 2015.

Net neutrality is based on the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally no matter what internet service provider (ISP) is carrying it.  The ISPs (AT&T, Comcast, Verizon etc.) claim such rules impede investment and innovation.

The current rules impose utility-style regulation on ISPs to prevent them from favoring their own digital services over those of their rivals.

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that he believes the net neutrality rules adopted during the Obama administration discourage the ISPs from making investments in their network that would provide even better and faster online access.

Critics argue repealing the plan will end up with consumers paying ala carte for certain websites much like they do for certain channels on their cable bill.

Pai distributed his alternative plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday last week in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote on the proposal.

The attempt to repeal net neutrality has triggered protests from consumer groups and internet companies. More than 22 million comments have been filed with the FCC about whether net neutrality should be rolled back.
The Internet Association, a group whose members include major internet companies such as Google and Amazon, vowed to continue to fight to keep the current net neutrality rules intact.
"Consumers have little choice in their ISP, and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps," the group's CEO Michael Beckerman said in a statement.
Consumers Union predicted a repeal of net neutrality would allow ISPs to raise their prices and give preferential treatment to certain sites and apps.

"Strong net neutrality rules are vital to consumers' everyday lives and essential to preserving the internet as we know it today -- an open marketplace where websites large and small compete on equal terms and where information and ideas move freely," said Jonathan Schwantes, the advocacy group's senior policy counsel.