Net Neutrality allows Americans to have free and open access to the internet without being blocked or slowed by service providers. While popular with many Americans, 2015 net neutrality rules have been opposed by some Republican lawmakers and large internet providers who say net neutrality is an obstacle to innovation. The repeal of net neutrality rules by the Federal Communications Commission could affect the speed and price of internet connection for many Americans.
Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is a staunch supporter of his agency’s 3 to 2 repeal of net neutrality. Appointed by President Trump earlier this year to lead the agency, Pai believes the rules put into place in 2015 were unnecessary. He told Scripps Washington Bureau that net neutrality is discouraging broadband companies from investing in infrastructure that brings the net into homes across the country. “The repeal of these regulations will make for better, faster, cheaper internet access for all Americans."
Tom Wheeler is the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission appointed by President Barack Obama. Wheeler is a defender of net neutrality and led the agency when it passed the 2015 Open Internet Order that imposed net neutrality rules on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT& T, Comcast and Verizon. The decision prevented providers from blocking websites or content or slowing their speed to offer “fast lanes” at a higher price, known as throttling.
Netflix is one of many internet companies that could be adversely affected by the rollback of net neutrality rules. The 2015 rules prevented internet service providers (ISPs) including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, from charging companies like Netflix higher fees for faster service speeds. But while Netflix’s size and influence might better position it to weather the outcomes of the final net neutrality decision, small internet companies could be hit hard by increased costs for faster speed.
Comcast opposed the 2015 net neutrality rules. Rolling back the rules could pave the way for Comcast and other internet service providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Verizon to control the price and speed of your internet and begin favoring the online content and service entities they own over their competitors.
Consumers took to the streets in protest in cities across the country. Advocates of net neutrality are concerned internet service providers (ISPs) will wield greater power to block or slow access to websites and increase fees.
Mignon Clyburn is a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission and supporter of net neutrality. Appointed to the agency by President Barack Obama in 2013, she voted for the 2015 Open Internet Order that instituted net neutrality guidelines and believes they serve the best interests of consumers and small businesses. Clyburn’s support of net neutrality is shared by fellow commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly voted with Ajit Pai to roll back the guidelines.
Craig Aaron is the executive director of Free Press, an advocacy group fighting for net neutrality rules. He said rolling back protections will have significant repercussions. Aaron told Scripps News, “We think what Chairman Pai is proposing is a fundamental existential threat to the Internet," he said. “Essentially these rules preserve that free and open internet we've always had, where you go online and you're in control."