Net Neutrality in simple form is what reserves users rights to communicate freely and openly online.
It means that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), such as Sky and BT should not discriminate against what you as a user are able to view or post online. ISP’s have to transport all data between the servers and your computer in the same way, whether it be a Youtube video or movie streaming using Netflix. Without Net Neutrality ISP’s would be able to block certain websites, or views if they disagreed with it or slow down a competitors content. It means that Internet Service Providers would steer consumers to more expensive packages to access content.
Net Neutrality has been in the press recently, because of a large debate that occurred in the US. The US ISP Verizon successfully challenged the American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over it’s Net Neutrality rules. The courts pulled down two of the three rules of what was formally known as the “Open Internet Rules”. This allowed ISP to start charging fees to carry data heavy services.
In March of 2014, Netflix reached a deal with Comcast to pay a fee which would allow it’s Comcast’s customers quicker access to Netflix. This caused massive uproar, with hundreds of tech firms, including Google calling for a free and open internet.
In February of 2015, new rules on how the internet is governed.
The main changes for broadband providers are as follows:
- Broadband access is being reclassified as a telecommunications service, meaning it will be subject to much heavier regulation
- Broadband providers cannot block or speed up connections for a fee
- Internet providers cannot strike deals with content firms, known as paid prioritisation, for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers
- Interconnection deals, where content companies pay broadband providers to connect to their networks, will also be regulated
- Firms which feel that unjust fees have been levied can complain to the FCC. Each one will be dealt with on a case by case basis
- All of the rules will also apply to mobile providers as well as fixed line providers
- The FCC won’t apply some sections of the new rules, including price controls