I was overjoyed to hear that the FCC voted 3-2 to adopt new rules that treat broadband internet as a utility, much like telephones. The basic purpose of this would be to guarantee that internet service providers are neutral in terms of treating all customers and web content equally, and not favoring those who can pay more money or slowing down those that pay less. It means that a cable company can’t slow down the traffic to their competitors’ websites. It assures that the Internet remains a generally level playing field, so small businesses and start-ups don’t get squashed by huge corporate competitors who can afford to pay more to have their own service prioritized. And critically for people like me who have complained incessantly about being at the mercy of a few big telecoms when it comes to broadband service, it also means that it will become easier to get more choices, especially if those choices mean expanding municipal broadband service where they were previously banned by state laws favoring those big telecom companies.
And yet, there are those who are still opposed to it and will fight this tooth and nail. Needless to say, I am not a fan of those people. But I am encouraged by the fact that so many people thought net neutrality would fail, and they turned out to be wrong.
Although there are many reasons why I think this was able to finally happen, I think a big part of it had to do with John Oliver and his HBO show, and I am not the only one who thinks that. The explanation of Net Neutrality on Last Week Tonight turned out to be really popular and quite easy for most people to understand. For anyone who missed it, here’s the clip in all its awesomeness.
Please note the explanation of what Comcast did during its negotiations with Netflix. That alone should be a pretty good explanation of why this sort of regulation is necessary, although the commentary on how awful Comcast and Time-Warner Cable are seen to be by their customers should also be pretty telling.
And in case you haven’t seen it, here’s John’s awesome follow up.
Well, Mr. Wheeler, perhaps with this decision of yours on net neutrality, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are NOT, in fact, a dingo. Please don’t do anything to make me doubt that choice.