With the Federal Communications Commission putting an end to ‘net neutrality’ rules, some people fear internet providers will slow down, block access or charge more for certain online content.
But one expert on the topic says the FCC’s decision is hardly Armageddon.
While protesters mounted a last-minute effort in DC to save 'net neutrality,' FCC commissioners dismantled the regulations on a 3-2 vote.
The regulations required internet service providers to treat content equally. When customers pay for access, they can use it how they want. Now, some fear broadband providers like Dallas-based AT&T, Verizon or Comcast could change the rules.
The providers could slow down streaming to services like Netflix and Amazon unless the companies pay more to keep faster speeds. They could also charge people more for access to certain sites. All the providers would have to do is post a notice on the FCC's website first that they're about to make a change.
UNT Information Systems Professor Leon Kappelman says the repeal of regulations could actually be good for consumers.
“I think it could lead to more investment,” he said. “I think it could lead to lower prices for some and premium prices for those who want to pay for first class.”
One downside Kappelman does see is the chance that providers could slow down sites or apps that belong to competitors. He hopes existing laws or court battles could sort that out.
“There are some real competitive issues because some of the companies that provide internet service are also media companies,” the professor said. “They are in a position to do non-competitive things to hurt other media providers.”
The broadband industry has downplayed the topic. Many companies insist the internet will not change. The changes to net neutrality will take effect as soon as they are recorded in the federal register. But that's also when the legal challenges are supposed to begin.
Many experts say binge watchers might be the first to see an impact.
Netflix said it is disappointed in the decision and said this is only the beginning of a longer legal battle.
New York's attorney general has also vowed to lead a multi-state lawsuit.