FCC Reclassifies Broadband As A Utility

Today the FCC made a historic vote, classifying Broadband as a utility and effectively put into place net neutrality.  The vote was 3-2 down party lines and in the ruling, the FCC now regulates broadband providers as they do telephone and cable companies.  This is all under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934.  The new rules would allow the FCC to ban broadband providers from slowing down or blocking access to website and online services so long as those services are legal.  The implications are huge and you can fully expect broadband providers to sue the FCC over it.

In the ruling, there are three big things that the FCC outlined today.  First, no blocking of sites or services that provide legal content, services, applications or other non-harmful solutions.

Second, No Throttling.  Broadband providers are no longer allowed to slow down or degrade service based on the content, applications or services being consumed.  In other words, just because you streaming Netflix, you can’t be punished for it by slower speeds.

Third, and perhaps the one that will get the broadband providers fired up, no more paid prioritization.  Broadband providers under the new rules cannot accept payment from an application, content provider or service to prioritize that traffic over other traffic.  In other words, this eliminates the “fast lane” for those willing to pay for it and it bans ISPs from prioritizing any traffic.

Why this last point will rub broadband providers wrong is that they have been charging services like Netflix or other content providers for access.  Comcast and Verizon are both known to do this while there are undoubtedly other ISPs that do the same.  This is a revenue source for the ISPs and effectively it became illegal today.

One final note, the FCC also redefined broadband as 25-Megabits per second (Mbps) so anything at that rate or higher falls into the new rules.

The implications of the ruling could be far reaching as basic rights and rules under Title II now apply to your broadband access.

You can read the full report from the FCC at this link.

What do you think?  Good or bad let me know and why.