Grady Explains: Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission’s partial repeal of the Open Internet Order net neutrality rules took effect yesterday, but what does that mean? Grady Newsource explains.

What is the Open Internet Order?

The Open Internet Order was issued by the FCC in 2015, and it changed the classification of internet access from an “information service” to a “common carrier telecommunications service,” meaning that internet access is regulated as a public utility. In December 2017, the FCC voted to partially repeal the Open Internet Order, making internet access an information service once again.

How does a classification make a difference?

The telecommunications service classification means that internet service is subject to “common carrier” provisions, just like electricity, gas, and water services. The common carrier provisions prevent internet service providers from discriminating against which websites users may visit and charging more for certain websites or speeds. In other words, the provisions reinforce “net neutrality.”

Why do people support net neutrality?

Many supporters of net neutrality say that the repeal of the Open Internet Order will make internet service comparable to the way cable service works now. They claim that internet service providers will chop websites into bundles, like in the example below. Supporters also say that without net neutrality rules, internet providers will ban websites they do not support and develop “fast” and “slow” lanes of internet speed.

Why do people oppose net neutrality?

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argues that net neutrality hinders innovation and investments in internet infrastructure. Opposers also argue that Title II of the Communications Act of 1934–the legal foundation of the Open Internet Order–is outdated and does not include any provisions that prevent discrimination of internet access.

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