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Hosting Ecosystem Members Seek Net Neutrality Regulations from FCC, Even If It Means Causing Mischief

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To protest rules that could shut the door on net neutrality, content delivery network MaxCDN is allowing its customers to slow connections from Federal Communications Commission IPs to 28k modem speeds.

MaxCDN was inspired by web host Neocities which decided to slow the speed of visitors from the FCC to illustrate that the rules proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would create a situation where companies can pay Internet service providers to prioritize their traffic.

While the exact content of Wheeler’s plan won’t be made available to the public until Thursday, insiders say that his plan would allow companies to pay to prioritize their web content, rather than treating all web traffic equally. However, the language has apparently been revised this week to prevent ISPs from creating a “slow lane” for those who can’t afford to pay a premium – even though it’s impossible to create a fast lane without also creating a slow lane.

In essence, this would allow companies like AT&T and Verizon to undermine the open nature of the Internet, and could prove an enormous threat to services delivered over the internet such as streaming media and cloud computing. Naturally, hundreds of tech companies including MaxCDN and Neocities, as well as private citizens, are voicing their criticism for Wheeler’s proposed regulations.

The political left has been most vocal over net neutrality, yet one could make an argument that net neutrality could be seen a protection of the free market. And although net neutrality would have to be enforced through government regulation, it is something that fits into the pro-business, conservative agenda.

Given the public outcry around net neutrality from all sides of the political spectrum, the FCC needs to show that it can be trusted to act in the best interests of citizens and of the internet itself.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming hard to take the FCC seriously as an independent body, given that commissioners have political party affiliations and are appointed rather than elected. Wheeler, himself, worked as a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry before joining the FCC.

Even if the FCC forces through rules that allow carriers to charge for premium speeds, the public and the tech industry will likely pressure elected politicians to overturn the FCC’s regulations. And they will pull pranks if they have to.

About the Author

David Hamilton is a Toronto-based technology journalist who has written for the National Post and other news outlets. He has covered the hosting industry internationally for the Web Host Industry Review with particular attention to innovative hosting solutions and the issues facing the industry. David is a graduate of Queen’s University and the Humber College School of Media Studies.

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2 Comments

  1. What the FCC should really do is simply reclassify broadband as common carrier, and not regulate it further. Where regulation is desperately needed is in transmission. No meaningful competition is currently happening in the last mile, and that's where we need the regulators to step in. The broadband providers should compete on quality of service without a fast lane, and without the impractical band-aid that net neutrality rules always were. Let's get real open Internet out of the FCC. Europe has it, why not the USA? It's high time.

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    • David Hamilton Post author

      I agree that treating broadband providers as common carriers would be the simple solution, however a court recently ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to treat them as a common carriers or a utilities - but rather as lightly regulated "information services." (Ref: http://www.thewhir.com/web-hosting-news/court-appeals-strikes-fcc-net-neutrality-rule) It seems that politicians need to step in to ensure that the FCC has the power it needs to make net neutrality possible, and make sure that it's working in the interest of citizens, not just broadband providers.

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