Tech companies have been fighting the battle when it comes to the Internet being open to all and neutral for years. The fight became pretty fierce lately as the Federal Communications Commission's Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules in order to make the Internet more open to entrepreneurial ventures in the form of paid "fast lanes" for certain companies that use a lot of bandwidth or can afford it.
Tech companies, naturally, were opposed to this and even wrote a letter to the commission regarding the issue. The commission decided to wait on voting on the matter until now. The vote is in and it isn't in favor of what the tech companies wanted to happen.
The commission voted 3-2 on new net neutrality rules that favor Internet fast lanes being present in the Internet's future. Internet service providers (ISPs) will be able to charge companies for faster and more reliable Internet delivery.
The potential downside to this is everyone else who doesn't pay the premium may have a bugged-down or unreliable service in favor of ISPs focusing on the premium users. This in turn could hurt rival companies who don't pay the premiums from staying competitive.
However, some companies use a lot more bandwidth or may need a lot more speed than others, and now this speed increase will be available for them at a fee. So in some ways it could actually benefit some companies in the sense of getting them an option to get more reliable Internet than rely on the standard ISP services.
Wheeler claims that the Internet will still be open and neutral despite this latest vote taking place.
"I will not allow the national asset of an open Internet to be compromised. I understand this issue in my bones," says Wheeler. "Simply put, when a consumer buys a specified bandwidth, it is commercially unreasonable and thus a violation of this proposal to deny them the full connectivity and the full benefits that connection enables."
Basically stating that companies should have this benefit and ability to get prioritized networks as long as they pay for the service. He is proposing stricter regulation to make sure it doesn't get out of hand and stays neutral. However, this has drawn further criticism from conservatives.
"At a time when technology businesses need certainty to innovate, this is not the time for the FCC to engage in a counterproductive effort to even further regulate the Internet," House Republican lawmakers wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
It will be interesting to see what transpires from this vote and the new rules that will be imposed on ISPs. We should hope that companies don't gain too much of a competitive advantage over others, such as startups, due to this.