And so it begins. Verizon yesterday filed the first legal challenge to the new FCC regulations around net neutrality. Petitioning the DC federal appeals court, Verizon is claiming the FCC has overstepped its authority by prohibiting carriers from discriminating against various kinds of internet traffic. Unlike telephone service which is heavily regulated, internet service is classified differently and is subject to much less government intervention. Predictably, big carriers immediately cried foul to any attempt to ensure the internet remains equally open to all subscribers, citing what of course leads to their own pocketbook interests.
There is a legitimate argument that fat files take more bandwidth and may need routing management to maintain performance for all. Video has been the increasing killer app for several years now, so this situation is not new or unexpected. But beyond that, there is a Carrier desire to charge extra for ‘special services’ – having worked in the IT Industry for many years, I read this as another opportunity for increased unbundling – a favorite technique for increasing revenue. Just as your cable TV has been creeping up for years, internet unbundling and ‘special services’ would have the same effect, and would in my opinion prohibit development and propagation of as-yet-unknown ideas and applications that come out of the digital community because things may get financially out of reach for users.
To be fair, I bitch like hell if my connection is slow, and many users [especially Millenials] excesively access fat files. Maybe some grading of the fee structure according to usage is not out of the question. Anyone on the internet is already paying access fees, which are not cheap – even my basic broadband hardwire is $30/month, which is more than land line phone service. Would you be willing to pay more for unfettered YouTube access?
So, the government could redefine and regulate broadband in the same model as the telephone, but there was big corporate and Republican pushback when this idea came up. The FCC’s December action tried to establish a compromise, but not surprisingly, one month later it’s already in court. I have a feeling this one could go all the way up the legal ladder, and Justice Roberts will surely put this one on the docket. Should be an interesting few years. Ma Bell Redux.