FCC to the Net Neutrality rescue3/11/2015
In case you haven’t heard, the last couple of weeks have been pretty big concerning the future of the Internet. Net Neutrality, a term that means everything and nothing, depending on your web literacy, was for all intents and purposes cemented in the Federal Communications Commission’s book of regulations. The simple explanation on what this means to you is that the Internet will continue to be the fast-moving, cat meme-filled, pornography-laden super highway it has always been — i.e., no changes. The complicated explanation takes much concentration, so grab a cup of coffee and maybe a protractor because, seriously, this is important.
At this point there’s no way around it — we all take the Internet for granted. It is the most important and intricate communication tool ever invented, and every time you turn on a web-enabled device you expect it to be there. Well, truthfully there is no “there” to it. The Internet isn’t a place, but an impossible network of interconnecting computers and servers that feed information back and forth to each other upon request. The web — or the part you interact with — is the processed layer on top of the Internet that organizes and translates the various data types available.
Net Neutrality was the one commandment that kept order in the Internet’s god-less computer world — that is until last January when a federal court ruled the FCC had designated its Net Neutrality rules under the wrong justification. Setting aside that federal reasoning is the biggest pile of bureaucratic crap in the history of time, that decision was the equivalent of the Internet shot heard ’round the world. See, if the Internet is just a ton of connected computers, someone needs to administer those connections, and that’s where Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Mediacom, CenturyLink, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T come into the picture.
Net Neutrality tells those ISPs that all information on the Internet needs to be delivered to any user requesting it at the same speed. Think it of like electricity: No matter where you live in town, utility providers must deliver services to all their customers at the same pace. It’s illegal for MidAmerican to govern electricity supply for Norwalk to half speed, while supplying Johnston at maximum speed. Net Neutrality does that except with content on the web. No matter if you’re reading your Twitter feed, streaming a music video on YouTube or downloading 100 hours of HD film, Net Neutrality says the ISP must treat all of that content the same.
Then the federal courts voided it, and all hell broke loose. For the last 13 months, the sky was falling with worries of ISPs charging both consumers and content providers more for access to content that requires fast delivery, such as streaming media. Alas, in late February the FCC voted to designate ISPs the same as utility providers — or common carriers — forcing them to follow the same customer and content equal delivery laws, and Net Neutrality was restored. Suddenly all is right in the Internet world again.
Or maybe not. As with anything government-related, the red tape never seems to end. While Net Neutrality is once again the rule of the land, the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers allows the federal government to exact federal service and governance fees. So even though we aren’t paying more for content fast lanes fraudulently established by ISPs, our Internet bills will likely go up as that federal fee gets passed down to subscribers. Funny how the government ends up looking like the hero saving Net Neutrality, while at the same time is secretly the villain causing our bills to go up. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.