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The FCC's net neutrality vote affects your internet speed: We explain

The FCC's net neutrality vote affects your internet speed: We explain

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The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to reinstate rules it repealed in 2017 that would have prevented internet service providers from disrupting your internet speed.

A 3-2 vote along political party will restore net neutrality — a policy that ensures your ISP doesn't block or slow legal traffic, or charge extra to deliver some content more quickly.

The commission in October voted 3-2 in favor of a proposal that would reinstate net neutrality rules and once again give it regulatory oversight of broadband internet, which was repealed under former President Donald Trump.

The FCC said it is also using its new authority to order the US divisions of China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile to stop broadband internet access services in the US, according to Reuters.

Reuters reported that Chinese airlines must stop service within 60 days from the effective date of the order.

Reuters said that FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that the Commission had taken similar measures against Chinese telecommunications companies in the past using existing authority.

What did the FCC commissioners say before the vote?

The pandemic — and the way consumers have used the Internet for school, work and health care — has made clear that to connect with the world, it must be done through broadband connectivity, Rosenworcel said Thursday during her remarks before the vote.

“It's becoming clear that no matter who you are or where you live, you need broadband to have a fair chance at success in the digital age,” she said. . Broadband has now become an essential service and essential services are those that we rely on in every aspect of modern life for some basic oversight.

Fellow FCC Commissioners Jeffrey Starks and Anna M. Gomez voted with Rosenworcel to approve the rule.

“Some will undoubtedly claim that this is all a government scheme to control the Internet,” Starks said in his remarks. “But let’s be realistic, this is about empowering consumers to control how they use the Internet with service provider assurance.” It does not obstruct or prioritize certain content.”

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Gomez, who also repeated her remarks in Spanish, said the measure would provide protection for all consumers, “but especially for those communities that have historically been left on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Symington cast dissenting votes.

In his remarks before the vote, Carr said the Internet had flourished in America “in the absence” of regulation by the government.

Carr questioned whether Internet service providers (ISPs) would continue to invest with the new rule, saying broadband investments slowed after 2015 and picked up again in 2017 after the repeal.

“I'm confident we'll right this ship, and I'm confident the courts will overturn this illegal power grab,” Carr said.

Net neutrality has been a priority for Biden

Bringing back the rules has been a focus of President Joe Biden, who signed an executive order in July 2021 urging the FCC to restore net neutrality rules put in place under President Barack Obama, according to Reuters.

Democrats were unable to make these changes during the period when they lacked a majority on the five-member FCC, but that balance changed in October, Reuters said.

During the Trump administration, the committee argued that net neutrality rules discouraged innovation and discouraged ISPs from putting money into the network.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the belief that an Internet service provider, or ISP, should give all consumers fair and equal access to lawful content and applications. Service providers should not favor some or prohibit others. They also shouldn't charge content providers to deliver their content faster on “fast lanes,” and intentionally slow down content from content providers that compete with ISPs.

Years ago, this hot-button issue even gave rise to a file Popular segment On John Oliver's “Last Week Tonight” show, he urged people to visit the FCC's website to express their opinions on the issue, which sparked millions of comments.

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When was net neutrality abolished?

Net neutrality was repealed in December 2017.

then FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the repeal would help As more Americans gain access to high-speed Internet, companies will spend more on building networks “without the burden of strict regulation,” and this will create jobs.

Net pros and cons of neutrality

The FCC says there are a number of benefits for consumers — openness sets ground rules for ISPs not to block legal content, throttle speeds and create “fast lanes” for people who can pay for it.

The FCC Title II broadband reclassification allows the FCC to enforce cybersecurity standards and will require ISPs to notify the FCC and consumers of Internet outages.

Advocates and experts also say net neutrality is a positive for consumers.

Nancy LeMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, applauded Thursday's decision. “The rule will protect consumers online, helping prevent fraud and online fraud while protecting privacy and access to content,” she said in an email statement.

Net neutrality protects consumers from ISPs controlling what you see, Chris Lewis, president and CEO of Public Knowledge, previously told USA TODAY. “Broadband is an essential communications tool, so we need the rules to be fair.”

Can net neutrality rules affect prices?

maybe.

Lewis gives the example of streaming services, which create their own websites and apps to access the Internet and reach the consumer. While these sites already pay for Internet access, broadband providers want to charge additional user fees that are passed on to consumers, he said.

“With net neutrality, these fees are prohibited. The savings are indirect, but they are real,” he said.

Is net neutrality important for internet infrastructure?

Mallory Knodel, chief technology officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told USA TODAY that aging broadband network wires need to be replaced and that ISPs have not done a great job of maintaining or building infrastructure in an equitable manner.

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This has led to a “dirt road effect,” where low-income subscribers end up with non-priority traffic or ineffective internet, she said.

With broadband infrastructure needing a lot of work, can net neutrality help?

“Just abstractly,” Knodel said. “If net neutrality prevents profits from preferential treatment and innovation in traffic shaping, then perhaps it follows that they will put efforts elsewhere, namely in off-grid maintenance and construction. In any case, the latter has much greater benefits for consumers.”

The argument against net neutrality

The Computer and Communications Industry Association, whose members include Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and MetaPlatforms, supports net neutrality and has previously said the policy “should be reinstated to preserve open access to the Internet,” according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, USTelecom, whose members include AT&T and Verizon, said restoring net neutrality is “a completely counterproductive, unnecessary, and anti-consumer regulatory distraction.”

In 2018, Verizon was accused of throttling unlimited data to Santa Clara County during the Mendocino wildfires, crippling its ability to coordinate until it upgraded to a more expensive service plan. This led to a lawsuit outlining the effects of the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules.

When browsing: What is good internet speed?

At the time, a Verizon spokesperson told USA TODAY that the issue was not related to the net neutrality court's actions, but was due to a customer service error, and that Verizon had a practice of removing data caps during emergency situations.

Twelve states have net neutrality laws or regulations, despite a 2017 decision to withdraw the requirement at the federal level, Reuters reported. Industry groups dropped legal challenges to those state requirements in May 2022.

Contributing: Reuters

Betty Lynn Fisher is the consumer correspondent for USA TODAY. Accessed at [email protected] Or follow her on X, Facebook, or Instagram @blinfisher. Sign up for the free The Daily Money newsletter, which will include consumer news on Fridays, here.