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FCC targets net neutrality

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Nov 21, 2017
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FCC targets net neutrality

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Nov 21, 2017
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The next target of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback appears to be net neutrality. The Obama-era rule that says all internet traffic has to be treated equally. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to release a new net neutrality rule this week reversing that decision.

Here’s how net neutrality works. Think of the web as a highway.  Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon are the on ramps.  Content providers like Netflix are the cars. All going at the same speed.

“No fast lanes, no blocking and no slow lanes,” said Harold Feld, head of the consumer group, Public Knowledge.

He says consumers are likely to lose if net neutrality is rolled back.  That’s because  carriers could charge extra for high speed lanes. So if, say, Netflix wanted to stream faster,  “that’s going to be reflected in the price we all have to pay,” Feld said. “Because nobody rides for free.”

Big carriers argue that net neutrality stifles innovation in a fast-moving industry.  But Columbia law professor Tim Wu says net neutrality rules have been in place for years and, “this is just upending something which has been working really well,” he argues.

The new rule could be adopted at the FCC’s next meeting, in mid December, and promptly challenged in court.

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