Net neutrality rules officially repealed in US

Source Flickr Commons

Source Flickr Commons

Monday, June 11, marks the official end of the USA government's net neutrality rules, which had required broadband providers such as AT&T, Charter and Verizon to treat all Web traffic equally. Many Internet providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, have said they do not and will not block or slow content. Comcast has also said it does not block or slow content and has no plans to offer paid prioritization.

The rules oblige Internet service providers, or ISPs, to enable access of all content and applications, regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules were officially repealed Monday. AT&T has had a contract with Netflix since 2014, but they don't have a contract with Hulu.

In a press release Monday, the FCC said the repeal does away with "unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations" and replaces them with "common-sense regulations that will promote investment and broadband deployment".

Since it is now legal for companies to speed up and slow down their services as they wish, customers could be forced to choose between an overall slower service or higher costs.

That view is being challenged in the deferral court, however, which is due to hear an argument from net neutrality advocates - backed by the attorney generals of about as many states as Pai visited - that he acted arbitrarily in overturning Obama-era rules. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, governors in six states - New Jersey, New York, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Hawaii - have signed executive orders upholding net neutrality, and three - Washington, Vermont and OR - have enacted legislation that does so.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel - who voted against the repeal of Net Neutrality - released her own statement today. But now, with the repeal of net neutrality, users could soon see differences in their browsing.

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The flip side is there are many areas where broadband availability is limited to one or two options, giving consumers little or no choice in the matter.

Whether you're trying to buy a necklace on Etsy, stream a series on Netflix, or upload a photo to Facebook, your internet service provider has to load all of those websites equally quickly.

"The FCC will not have the last word when it comes to net neutrality, the American people will", he said.

So net neutrality's path through Congress is an uphill battle, but some are still optimistic that net neutrality will win out in the end. According to Wired, Comcast, the nation's largest broadband provider, is momentarily forbidden from violating net neutrality rules under the terms of the government's approval of its 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal. Others point out that the FTC, which oversees consumer protection for every corner of the USA economy, already has its hands full.

Although the FCC's repeal takes effect Monday, it's not the end of the road for net neutrality.

"We'll see what happens after the [midterm] election", Lewis says. This information will allow consumers to make an informed decision about which internet service provider is best for them and give entrepreneurs the information they need as they develop new products and services.

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