December 27, 2010

Net Neutrality: FCC Rolls Out New Rules for Regulating Internet Traffic

What happens when they don't use Broadband and DSL lines anymore? You will be in the slow lane.

The principle of net neutrality is about keeping the hands of several powerful network operators -- AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast -- off the Internet, preventing them from taking steps to change the basic open nature of the Net that has led to its success. Net neutrality keeps the Internet as a free and open marketplace, so that a small number of telephone and cable monopolies can't choke off competition and innovation. -from Media Matters.org

The Obama administration has declared the Net Neutrality ruling by the FCC as a victory for millions of Internet users. (This ruling, not surprisingly, came about just days before the holiday season, when most of us weren't paying attention.) This is not a victory. The Net Neutrality laws voted on by the FCC calls for regulation of Internet access that enters a user's home. However there are no rules regarding wireless Internet access via mobile devices such as cellphones and smart pads. The amount of data storage is what is at stake.

If you get on the internet using dial-up, then you probably could care less about this issue... but it reminds us of something that happened almost 15 years ago.

The Radio and Television TelComm Act rules passed during the Clinton administration in 1996 promised that opening up media ownership regulations would lead to better competition among media companies. This would even be good for minority owned broadcast companies too. The exact opposite happened. Large media conglomerate corporations like Clear Channel and others led the way to the lack of competition that exist in radio today. Syndicated radio shows, the lack of local coverage and corporate playlists throughout the industry is the norm. You hear the complaints everyday... you may have even said, "radio sucks."

Anyone with a clue about how the majority of Internet content will be delivered in the future, knows it will be via mobile devices. Wireless Internet access will become the standard way people will get on the web. The FCC ruling allows for wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast to charge different prices for Internet access on mobile devices in the future. They can set up their own pricing packages to get on the Internet. They can even slo-o-o-o-o-w down your access to certain websites or promote their own sponsored sites on a web search.

So if you want to listen to Pandora or watch Netflix on your mobile device you're out of luck unless you want to pay a premium charge for it... that is if they let you watch it all. But if you want to use your PC or laptop ONLY then you should be OK, that is if these companies continue to deliver Internet content through broadband and DSL lines.

You decide if you want your facebook, twitter, or Netflix access BLOCKED by your wireless carrier. For musicians and singers, you decide if you want your Myspace site not being available to ALL of your fans on mobile devices. You decide...

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