FCC reclassifies Internet as public utility with latest vote

The Federal Communications Commision voted 3-2 in favor of a proposal on Feb. 26 that will reclassify the Internet as a public utility, allowing for government regulation and maintenance of an open Internet.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler insists an open Internet will benefit consumers and innovators because there will not be any interference from their service providers as a result of the approved proposal.

The FCC’s reclassification of the Internet as a public utility is based on multiple sources, such as Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Title II would support the proposal in reclassifying “broadband Internet access service” to a telecommunications service, allowing the FCC to better regulate an “Open Internet.”

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 further backs the FCC’s proposal by allowing them to protect users and the intricate network accessed on the Internet.

The three main contentions of the bid designed to benefit the consumer are for no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization.

The “no blocking” contention rules that broadband providers may not block any type of access to Internet users, which will allow content to move freely across the Web without interruption from service providers.

The “no throttling ” rule outlines that service providers cannot impair or degrade Internet traffic to users. Paying for 60 megabytes worth of Internet service will guarantee that ex- act amount and no less.

The “no paid prioritization” contends that broadband providers may not favor some traffic over others, meaning there would be no fast lanes for Internet access for anyone.

The major downside to the proposal is that the FCC could be interfering with the operation of businesses affected by the new rules.

“Net neutrality is something that is definitely needed,” said Tim Fanning, adjunct professor in the college of engineering. “It keeps businesses from limiting access. The Internet is based on open access to information, and it should stay that way.”

For the student population, the proposal would allow for better access and quicker speeds when using the Internet and its services. Broadband providers would be held to a standard of honesty with what they supply.

“Without placing requirements preserving the liberties of Internet, big companies can throttle speed and control content,” said Reece Ezell, freshman engineering major. “Net neutrality is a vital component for Internet services.”

“Being at a university, (net neutrality) is only going to keep the free flow of information going,” Fanning said. “It is not going to limit something that is controversial.”

About Randy Plavajka

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