New net neutrality rules pass, but expect a fight from ISPs
The FCC has today approved new net neutrality rules that are designed to make sure there's a free flow of traffic on the internet regardless of source or destination -- but not everyone's happy about it.
Under the new regulations (which have yet to implemented, or even formally unveiled) neither wired nor wireless internet providers will be legally able to block or slow traffic inside the U.S., which has been a worry for developers of apps and games, particularly bandwidth-intensive ones.
The decision reclassifies internet traffic as a public utility, like phone service, which will allow the FCC to more tightly regulate it.
"All we want is transparency and protection against discrimination; if you're making or playing a game, you want to know what kind of data your ISP will block and why," former Turbine CEO Dan Scherlis said in 2010, by way of illustrating net neutrality concerns from the perspective of an MMO developer. The road to this decision has been long.
Fears that this business model could affect other internet-intensive companies has driven support for net neutrality -- as have concerns of favoritism, wherein established services would get preferential treatment from service providers than smaller competitors or niche services.
"The internet is too important for broadband providers to be making the rules," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler remarked, according to a report from Re/code. "It’s too important to be left without rules and a referee on the field."
"No one ... should control free and open access to the internet," Wheeler said, USA Today reports.
While companies like Google have been in favor of these rules, providers like Verizon and AT&T oppose them.
"The FCC today chose to change the way the commercial internet has operated since its creation," Verizon wrote in a statement. It characterizes the FFC's move as "broad and open-ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the internet ecosystem for years to come."
VentureBeat reports that AT&T and Verizon will sue the FCC in light of the decision.