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Net neutrality still a gray area

We have had quite a few people ask us lately about President Obama’s (really the FCC’s) plan to regulate the internet and internet providers, warmingly referred to as net neutrality. Generally speaking, the idea behind net neutrality is that ISP’s shouldn’t/can’t/won’t discriminate internet traffic based on the source or destination. In more relatable terms, that means that we won’t slow down foxnews.com and speed up cnn.com or vice versa. Comcast got into a bit of trouble (really more peer pressure than anything else) for prioritizing their Xfinity app on the Xbox while de-prioritizing Netflix. Imagine Charter’s voice-over-ip telephone product being crystal clear but MagicJack sounding terrible. That’s what net neutrality is trying to avoid.

As in most things in life that the government tries to fix, there are some sufficiently muddy waters in what the President has proposed to the FCC and it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The greater than 300 page document has not been released to the public for any review so much of the discussion is very preliminary at this point. In other words, many of the politicians, news organizations, or lobbyists talking about it are trying to mold it into what they want it to be. And short of substantive information in the form of the actual document, that is all we’ll get for a while: conjecture.

The only thing we do have is an official statement from Commissioner Pai (one of 5 non-elected Commissioners that run the FCC) earlier this morning that previews some of the items in the plan.

Commissioner Pai’s Statement on Network Neutrality

I would highly encourage everyone to read this 2 page summary as net neutrality could greatly impact how the internet works as well as the providers available in a given area and the rates in which consumers would pay for their internet. They have also released a fact sheet along with the press release.

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