The big Net Neutrality vote is coming up. The Twin Cities Metro iBA (independent business alliance) and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits are planning a meeting to discuss Net Neutrality on Thursday (Feb 19). Senator Franken is one of the speakers. I hope to attend and report out. In the meantime I thought it might be helpful to remind folks of the basics and present both sides of the issue.
The big deal right now is that the FCC (well Chairman Wheeler) is looking at reclassifying broadband under Title II (common carrier status). The popular belief is that Title II classification would allow the FCC to protect net neutrality by regulating against paid prioritization and discrimination.
For Net Neutrality/Title II
- Daily Yonder looks at Net Neutrality and affordability. They stress the idea that a provider must meet customer demands for reasonable service – in rural areas there have been issues with service being offered to a portion of a town or only within a town while neighbors on the outskirts get lesser services. Title II options would curb that and/or put in place protections for customers to complain about such (lack of) service.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation’s article on Net Neutrality focuses on what is and what isn’t in the proposals (which they point out we haven’t really seen yet). There’s a focus on allowing unfettered (or escalated) service for lawful content – but who will monitor the lawfulness of content and how? And will that transparency go two ways? Will customers know what providers are doing?
- Google Fiber supports Title II because it would allow them to gain access to utility poles and other essential infrastructure owned by utilities. The Wall Street Journal reports that cable and telecom companies have always had such access. The same article questions whether this shows support for Title II or is simply finding silver lining just in case.
- Sprint (via Ars Tecnica) says they will continue to invest even if regulated under Title II. This is a deviation from what many providers are saying (or at least the spirit of what they are saying). However, Sprint is hoping that wireless broadband will have more flexible regulation.
Against Net Neutrality/Title II
- The Internet Innovation Alliance (via Forbes) also discusses affordability. They point out that Title II comes with more regulation, which will costs the providers who will in turn pass costs onto customers. “The average American household with a fixed broadband connection would pay in the range of an additional $51 to $83 per year, and those with one smartphone or other wireless broadband device (tablet) would pay $72 more annually.”
- Fierce Telecom reports on Municipal providers do not support Title II – or at least they don’t support being held to Title II standards. They are asking to be exempt from Title II provisions because they have no “incentive to harm the openness of the Internet.”
- The NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunications Association (via Multichannel) says they will sue if Title II passes because NCTA President (for former FCC Chair) Michael Powell says billions of dollars have been invested in the industry one set of playing rules and those would change with Title II.
- Tech Freedom doesn’t support Title II because they see this as a way to push a political agenda and/or to side step Congressional jurisdiction. They ask some pointed questions similar to the EFF’s questions about – are we regulating/protecting customers, providers or regulators?
I must admit I didn’t spend all weekend scanning everything written about Net Neutrality – but I have tried to select points of view that were echoed by several people or at least were getting some traction in press and social media. No matter how you feel about it, I think it’s helpful to see all sides to ask good questions because everyone seems to agree that this may be the most important thing the FCC does for a long while. They received unprecedented comments from the public on the issue. Let’s hope the old school crowd sourcing can help us come up with something really good!