FCC wins, the internet is a utility, what happens next?

Written by on June 22, 2016 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

Fight, close up of two fists hitting each other over dramatic skyThe US court’s decision upheld the FCC on the declaration that the Internet is a utility. The FCC is triumphantly marching on, Google et al are cheering, and AT&T and co have vowed to defend the barricades and fight until the last man. All rather Napoleonic!  So the internet is a utility, but what has really been achieved? Apart from marching the industry round and round in a quagmire, nothing much.

In Washington, a federal court has ruled that Internet is a Utility. It is a sweeping decision that clears the way for more policing of broadband providers and more protections for web users.

The decision affirmed the government’s view that broadband is as essential as the phone and power and should be available to all Americans, rather than a luxury that does not need close government supervision.

The decision from a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit came in a case about rules applying to net neutrality, which prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.

Those rules, created by the FCC in early 2015, started a huge legal battle as cable, telecom and wireless internet providers sued to overturn regulations that they said went far beyond the F.C.C.’s authority and would hurt their businesses. On the other side, millions of consumers and giant tech firms rallied in favor of the regulations. President Obama also called for the strictest possible mandates on broadband providers.

The court’s decision upheld the F.C.C. on the declaration of Internet is a utility, which was the most significant aspect of the rules. That has broad-reaching implications for web and telecommunications companies that have battled for nearly a decade over the need for regulation to ensure web users get full and equal access to all content online.

Reaction to the ruling

“After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections — both on fixed and mobile networks — that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future,” Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C., said in a statement.

But the legal battle over the regulations is most likely far from over. The cable and telecom industries have signaled their intent to challenge any unfavorable decision, possibly taking the case to the Supreme Court. AT&T immediately said it would continue to fight.

“We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” said David McAtee II, the senior executive vice president and general counsel for AT&T.

“This is an enormous win for consumers,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of the public interest group Public Knowledge. “It ensures the right to an open internet with no gatekeepers.”

Google and Netflix support net neutrality rules and have warned government officials that without regulatory limits, broadband providers will have an incentive to create business models that could harm consumers. They argue that broadband providers could degrade the quality of downloads and streams of online services to extract tolls from web companies or to promote unfairly their own competing services or the content of partners.

Tech firms cheered the decision, which they said would be particularly helpful to start-ups that did not have the resources to fight gatekeepers of the web.

“Today marks a huge victory for the millions of microbusinesses who depend on the open internet to reach consumers and compete in the global marketplace,” said Althea Erickson, the senior director of global policy at the online crafts marketplace Etsy.

The biggest threat to broadband providers is the potential of any regulations to hurt the rates they charge for the service, analysts said. The F.C.C. has promised it will not impose rate regulations on the firms like it does for phone companies.

Where are we at this stage of the battle?

2016.06.17_2-Internet-is-a-Utility

More here.

This article was first published on PricingDataPlans.

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathon has been lurking around the Telecoms and Internet space for the last 20 years. He is now a man on a mission – that being the reformation of the Industry Analyst business. He is working with his co-conspirators on transforming the Industry Analyst world forever as an Expert with EMI. .

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