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America's Federal Communications Commission said it will propose rules on Thursday that could give high-speed Internet providers more power on what content moves the fastest on the Web based on which firms pay the most.
The new rules will mean videos from the likes ESPN.com, Facebook or YouTube could be delivered more smoothly because of payments to broadband providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon while the streaming videos of smaller companies will be jammed with buffering and low-quality images if they aren't able to pay ISPs access to faster Internet lanes into American homes.
And the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FCC is set to fall on the side of US ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Comcast who wish to be able to charge companies such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube premium fees for dedicated, quality-assured carriage of their video services.
...The idea is that consumers should be able to access whatever content they choose, not the content chosen by the broadband provider.
But it would also allow providers to give preferential treatment to traffic from some content providers, as long as such arrangements are available on "commercially reasonable" terms for all interested content companies. Whether the terms are commercially reasonable would be decided by the FCC on a case-by-case basis.
This latest plan is likely to be viewed as an effort to find a middle ground, as the FCC has been caught between its promise to keep the Internet open and broadband providers' desire to explore new business models in a fast-changing marketplace. It likely won't satisfy everyone, however. Some advocates of an open Internet argue that preferential treatment for some content companies inevitably will result in discriminatory treatment for others.
An FCC spokesperson confirmed to The Vergethat the proposal does include the ability for service providers to negotiate with individual companies, so long as all content is delivered at a baseline level of service. "Exactly what the baseline level of service would be, the construction of a 'commercially reasonable' standard, and the manner in which disputes would be resolved, are all among the topics on which the FCC will be seeking comment," the spokesperson said.
The commission will begin to internally circulate the rules tomorrow ahead of a vote on May 15th, after which the rules would be opened up for public comment if they pass.The FCC says that the proposed rules are meant to fulfill the goals of the 2010 Open Internet order — the neutrality-enforcing rules that werestruck down in court earlier this year. It says that the proposed new rules are also consistent with the analysis of the court that initially struck its neutrality regulations down.
Alex Wilhelm from Techcrunch headlines, "The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules Will Brutalize The Internet":
The above is only “net neutrality” in that it protects all content from having its delivery degraded on a whim. The rubric reported doesn’t actually force neutrality at all, but instead carves out a way for extant potentates to crowd out the next generation of players by leaning on their cash advantage.
In practice this puts new companies and new ideas at a disadvantage, as they come into the market with a larger disadvantage than they otherwise might have. Any cost that we introduce that a large company can afford, and a startup can’t, either makes the startup poorer should it pay or degrades its service by comparison if it doesn’t.
This will slow innovation and enrich the status quo. That’s a shame.
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai And Jason Abbruzzese from Mashable write:
Net neutrality proponents are already reacting with anger to the potential proposal.
"If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst," Todd O’Boyle, the program director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, said in a statement. "Americans were promised — and deserve — an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes, and censorship — corporate or governmental. If Wheeler’s rules deliver anything less, that would be a betrayal."
McSherry said the requirement "to offer a baseline level of service" to subscribers could preserve some guarantee that ISPs would not be able to require all sites to pay fees for accessing customers. The specifics, she added, would be essential to understanding the full ramifications of the proposed rules.
"The bargain that they seem to be proposing on the other side limits or restricts blocking specific sites," she said. "That might be positive. The devil is really going to be in the details."
Sam Gustin from Time Magazine reports:
Net-neutrality advocates argue that Internet startups might not be able to afford to pay for such special treatment, potentially stifling innovation on the Internet, which has spawned one of the greatest periods of technological development in U.S. history, generating hundreds of billions of dollars in economic growth.
“The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online,” Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, a Washington-based consumer-advocacy group, said in a statement. “This is not Net neutrality. This standard allows ISPs to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet.”
...“This is not Net neutrality,” Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, which has long championed Internet openness, said in a statement. “It’s an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet to pretend otherwise. The FCC had an opportunity to reverse its failures and pursue real Net neutrality by reclassifying broadband under the law. Instead, in a moment of political cowardice and extreme shortsightedness, it has chosen this convoluted path that won’t protect Internet users.”
Image from"About Net Neutrality." Blogger.com. Blogger, 16 Mar. 2011. Web. 08 Nov. 2012. http://mastashake223.blogspot.com/.