Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced its plan to scale back net neutrality regulations. The vote confirmed the expanded suspension of the net neutrality transparency rule for providers with less than 250,000 subscribers. Previously void to websites with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, this rule requires broadband providers to inform their customers of their current network management operations, including performance, fees, and data caps.
The basis of these regulations is the power of internet service providers, or ISPs, to manipulate access to different websites. For example, if website A wants to pay their ISP extra, they can provide faster access to website A and also slow down the speed of access to website B. The transparency rule was created to prevent this, and further a principal known as net neutrality. Supporters of net neutrality believe that the internet should be an even playing field and that access to every website should be provided at the same speed. Opponents argue that just like any other advertising method, there should be a pay-to-play environment. Because the regulations require up-to-date and accurate information, many small businesses face financial challenges due to this regulation.
The transparency rule was created to ensure customers were informed of their provider’s speed and price. The information from companies is required to be accurate and can be audited. Currently, when large companies allow for higher paying customers to receive better access, they will be punished by the FCC with potential monetary penalties. This creates a ceiling in the internet providing industry and prevents large companies from charging customers unfairly. Protections were given to smaller companies because providing accurate information and completing the correct paperwork can be considered burdensome.
This move is part of President Trump’s plan to cut back a lot of the red-tape around businesses. The regulations will only be valid for the next five years. We are interested to see what other changes will affect the regulation of internet access. Stay tuned for more news on web neutrality and the new achievements of the FCC.
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