Net Neutrality Fights Back


It’s really hard to make net neutrality interesting or entertaining. The cable companies have been banking on nobody watching or caring about the topic and have been whittling away at the rules around this topic for a while. The cable guys would like to be able to charge heavy users like Netflix more for being heavy users and throttle them back if they don’t pay. This would effectively create an internet slow lane where the only people enjoying decent speeds would be the ones paying the premium for greater speed. That’s already true for end users but would be true for publishers also if net neutrality goes away. The FCC has been prevaricating on the topic for many years with various rules and regulations being attacked in various courts by cable companies.

I was interested to see the president speak about this today, he essentially came out strongly for net neutrality and suggested that we solve this by defining internet providers utilities like power or water. That would require that providers treat all users alike a concept which has already triggered some significant drops in the stock prices of several cable companies. What’s frustrating to me about this is that the president is only just now addressing this issue.  The FCC is essentially appointed by the white house and the president has had six years to appoint the right people to make this a reality through the FCC. Now, having suffered horrible losses at the midterms the president has decided to attempt to legislate the internet providers into utilities. Given the massive financial lobbying power the cable giants can bring to bear on the topic does it seem likely that the president will be able to get that kind of legislation passed?  it feels like the kind of thing the right wing-nuts would resist as ‘big government.’ The time to push this issue would have been during his first term, now as the lame ducks come home to roost I’m less optimistic that this will get done.

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