On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission addressed the ongoing debate over net neutrality by voting in favor of an open Internet. The vote classified broadband services as a public utility, preventing broadband service providers from speeding up or slowing down Internet service based on different pay rates.
Supporters of net neutrality say the ruling will provide a level playing field for all online material, rather than favoring websites or companies that can afford to pay for Internet “fast lanes.”
Public support for net neutrality is very high. In an open comment period on the subject last year, nearly 4 million people weighed in — almost 99 percent of them favored an open Internet.
Despite such broad support, opposition to FCC’s ruling has already begun. On the same day as the vote, congressional Republicans from the House Committee on the Judiciary sent a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler stating their opposition to net neutrality in its current form and their intention to overturn the ruling. Additionally, large service providers such as Verizon and Time Warner, which have lobbied against net neutrality, are likely to file lawsuits against the ruling.
Regardless of opposing measures, we are glad to see net neutrality formalized at the federal level, especially because the FCC’s vote reflects the public’s support of net neutrality. The ruling is likely to need refinement, but it is a step in the right direction to prevent discrimination by broadband service providers.