Skip to main content

FCC Downplays Net Neutrality Changes In New Document

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed its plans to remove net neutrality regulations. The vote isn’t until December 14, but the group, led by chairman Ajit Pai, is trying to quell concerns with a new document that poses to debunk claims about the upcoming plan.

The document, titled “Myth vs. Fact: Setting the Record Straight on Chairman Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” lists multiple claims with accompanying “facts” about the topics. However, the explanations aren’t comforting, to say the least. Take a look at one of the bullet points below.

“Myth: This [“Restoring Internet Freedom Order”] will result in ‘fast lanes’ and ‘slow lanes’ on the Internet that will worsen consumers’ online experience.Fact: Restoring Internet freedom will lead to better, faster, and cheaper broadband for consumers and give startups that need priority access (such as telehealth applications) the chance to offer new services to consumers.”

The response doesn’t speak exactly to the original statement. It only tells consumers that once the order is passed, there could be faster and cheaper broadband options from internet service providers (ISPs). There’s no guarantee that ISPs will follow that plan, but the FCC hopes that companies will provide “better, faster, and cheaper broadband.”

Another example from the document covers the topic of additional premiums for accessing specific content. Once again, the explanation isn’t reassuring.

“Myth: Broadband providers will charge you a premium if you want to reach certain online content.Fact: This didn’t happen before the Obama Administration’s 2015 heavy-handed Internet regulations, and it won’t happen after they are repealed.”

If only wishing were true. In this case, the FCC is making the argument that premiums for specific content won’t happen because they didn’t appear in the past. However, an earlier version of this practice is already in place.

In 2016, the FCC conducted an investigation on zero-rating offerings, which according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation allow companies to “exempt particular data from counting against a user’s data cap, or from accruing any excess usage charges.” This allows companies to favor the use of specific services or apps because they own the product. One example is AT&T’s “Sponsored Data” program, which it says allows consumers to “browse websites, stream video, and enjoy apps on your wireless device without impacting your personal data plan.” The FCC concluded that AT&T offered a chance to join the Sponsored Data package to third-party content providers “at terms and conditions that are effectively less favorable” than those offered to DirectTV (an AT&T affiliate). The report also looked at similar practices with T-Mobile and Verizon.

Ready for more? Here’s another topic from the sheet, which concerns the blocking of specific websites.

“Myth: Internet service providers will block you from visiting the websites you want to visit.Fact: Internet service providers didn’t block websites before the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed 2015 Internet regulations and won’t after they are repealed. Any Internet service provider would be required to publicly disclose this practice and would face fierce consumer backlash as well scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which will have renewed authority to police unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices.”

The FCC again hopes that ISPs won’t block specific websites when the new plan is in effect. However it can happen, and when it does occur, the explanation says that customers and the FTC will voice their concerns, which should persuade companies to change their policies (right?).

The goal of the entire document is to play down the major impacts that would occur if the proposal is put into practice. This includes the prevention of states from creating their own net neutrality laws. Gamers would also have to pay even more not just to play online, but to download digital copies of and patches for their library of titles. Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now binge watchers might even have to pay more to catch up on some of today’s most popular shows.

You can take a look at the full list of “Myths vs. Facts” sheet on the FCC website, and you can continue to call your local and state representatives to voice your concerns about this gutting of net neutrality.

  • poisonpie
    Stop fearmongering, you seem to not realize that the real solution to the potential throttling issue is the fact that most areas have only one ISP, and "Net Neutrality" did nothing to solve that, in fact, it just exacerbated the issue, making startups jump through so many hoops and deal with Government regulations. If we're truly talking , about net neutrality why no mention the fact that Google, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and more regularly censor for political reasons. Doesn't seem very neutral to me, yet these big companies are the ones pushing for "Net Neutrality." Kinda strange dontcha think?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    I think it's funny they highlight "telehealth applications", yet net neutrality never applied to commercial customers such as hospitals. They were always free to negotiate special traffic policies with their ISPs.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    Those are unrelated topics. A group/company/entity censoring their own content is one thing. Having the provider of the data be able censor or limit access/speed to any site is the core issue.

    I'm a little surprised they used the term heavy-handed so many times. What are they, children? I would take them a lot more seriously if they just used the name of the law with no adjectives.
    Reply
  • kuhndj67
    The point is that if you don't like Google or Facebook you can go to other sites for your politics... if your ISP doesn't make that something else available because they've decided to exclude them from your access then you CAN'T go somewhere else. Net Neutrality means keeping ISP's from making those calls for you - it doesn't mean any of those sites you CAN get to need to follow your political leanings.
    Reply
  • why_wolf
    20430182 said:
    I think it's funny they highlight "telehealth applications", yet net neutrality never applied to commercial customers such as hospitals. They were always free to negotiate special traffic policies with their ISPs.

    It's even more disingenuous when you realize that under the old rules things like telehealth (anything medical related that for some reason uses the internet) and VOIP telephone service were always treated with priority access rules. Under the assumption that these devices if interrupted could create or worsen an emergency situation. So removing Net Neutrally changed absolutely nothing in regards to these kinds of services.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20430141 said:
    Stop fearmongering,
    It's not fearmongering. ISPs have long blocked end-user apps, like bittorrent (which I use for legal distribution of open source OS images), and have engaged in head-end throttling. The concerns aren't theoretical.

    20430141 said:
    most areas have only one ISP, and "Net Neutrality" did nothing to solve that,
    Just because it didn't solve one problem you care about isn't a good reason to do away with it. One solution doesn't need to address all problems. If we care about improving competition, then a real understanding of the issues should lead to a more focused solution to that problem, which can quite likely co-exist with net neutrality.

    20430141 said:
    in fact, it just exacerbated the issue, making startups jump through so many hoops and deal with Government regulations.
    I would like to see this impact quantified. I'm sure its effect is hardly comparable to the anti-competitive practices big cable companies & telcos have used.
    Reply
  • elgiov
    This link is down?
    www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express
    Reply
  • sykozis
    So, the FCC chairman, who is a former Verizon employee claims that things that didn't happen Pre-Net Neutrality won't happen after it ends? Verizon fought Net Neutrality on the grounds that they believed they had a right to control user access to data, as well as the right to charge users for access to services that compete with services they provide, and the right to charge competing companies for access to Verizon customers. I wonder how much Verizon stock Ajit Pai owns.... AT&T also tried to charge NetFlix for access to AT&T customers.... Removing regulations has NEVER increased competition in any market. Removing regulations actually DECREASES competition. Removing regulations has NEVER benefited consumers either....
    Reply
  • knightmike
    How is it legal for government officials to blatantly lie to the public? This government is owned by the corporations. We lose.
    Reply
  • chugot9218
    It is important to note that it is the Republicans blatantly lying to the public, enough of this false equivalency. For gods sake they created a whole presidential convention around an intentionally misquoted sentence by Obama. Since "you can keep your doctor" is the obvious rebuttal here, Obama did not make that statement to deceive, Republican amendments and the refusal to accept (for intents and purposes, free) money from the Medicaid expansion, purely on so called principal (which conveniently fall to the wayside once they are in power, deficits anyone???) caused that to be false. Hypocrisy of the highest order.
    Reply