Essential Pittsburgh
5:32 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Net Neutrality 101 and What's at Stake With the FCC Ruling

Earlier this year a federal appeals court struck down key provisions of the FCC’s net neutrality rule causing concern over internet users' accessibility.
Earlier this year a federal appeals court struck down key provisions of the FCC’s net neutrality rule causing concern over internet users' accessibility.
Credit Lindsey Turner / Flickr

Net neutrality, the concept used when we talk about the importance of a free and open internet has an uncertain future. Recent rule changes from the Federal Communications Commission may alter the way internet service providers offer access to consumers. 

Orion Czarnecki is an internet security consultant who breaks down the concept of net neutrality.

"When a consumer would increaser or request any type of traffic over the internet, whether its video, a website, email, that traffic is treated by their internet provider as equal. No traffic is favored over another type of traffic. So a video from Netflix is not favored over a video from YouTube. A webpage request at CNN is not favored over a webpage request from MSNBC." 

But this concept has changed with a new ruling from January of this year.

"The FCC said that, 'We wanted to establish what are called Open Internet Regulations over how the internet functions.' Verizon seeing an opportunity to make money, took that to court.  And said 'you don't have jurisdiction based on how broadband services are classified to say that our services, our customers should receive everything equally.' That ruling was established in January, essentially saying that the FCC doesn't have oversight into this protocol" 

US Representative Mike Doyle on Net Neutrality

This ruling has drawn concern from many people, including US Congressman Mike Doyle, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Credit US House of Representatives / Wikipedia

"Many of us are just concerned that we don't want to have a situation where ISP's can start to make deals with content companies to prioritize or give them fast link service," said Doyle

"We want everybody to have equal access to the internet. And you know the court cases that Verizon has filed has somewhat complicated the situation. Many of us feel very strongly that the best way to put real rules back in place is by reclassifying Broadband as a public utility under title 2 of the Communications Act. But there's a lot of resistance to that in Congress and right now, I think the FCC just doesn't have the kind of support that they need to go that direction."

But with an open comment period, Doyle believes there is a solution to this lack of support. 

"So I do think its important for people to give comments and feedback to the FCC during this comment period.  To make sure that its clear to the Commissioner and the FCC that we don't want to see a period where these ISP's can create deals with the big guys and just stifling innovation and competition from entrepreneurs or innovators that are coming up with new ideas in their garages but don't have the capital they need to get the kind of service they're going to need to get it out to the public."

The public comment period starts Thursday, May 15 and will be open for 30 days.