The repeal of net neutrality by the Republican-led FCC stirred massive controversy last December. Despite attempts to reverse the ruling the repeal of Obama-era legislation officially took effect on Monday.
The outed legislation ensured that service providers would provide equal access to the internet for all users. This prohibited companies from charging for access to websites and creating bundle deals for website usage.
The internet was seen as an equal playing field for large companies such as Facebook or a startup company. Overall under net neutrality rules internet providers were prohibited from blocking websites, slowing down websites or prioritizing access through payments.
The decision resulted in public outrage with an internet campaign to #SaveTheInternet. Many opponents feared that service providers would now be able to censor web content and charge additional fees for faster service.
The loss of net neutrality will hurt America's students. Sign this petition to tell the House of Representatives to reinstate it. I have joined the battle for the Internet by signing this petition. You should do the same.#NetNeutrality #SaveTheInternet https://t.co/HjtIePY3KW
— Ultra (@supertoken6605) June 14, 2018
Objectors also feared fast service to smaller sites would be blocked by leading media companies. Small business owners were left worrying about their ability to compete with leading media companies such as Google.
FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, believes the end of net neutrality regulations is a good thing for consumers. With the regulations out, the Federal Trade Commission now has restorative power over service providers.
Net neutrality is officially repealed. In an interview, we asked FCC Chair Ajit Pai: Should Congress make open internet rules? pic.twitter.com/6j5XXNapuA
— Marketplace (@Marketplace) June 14, 2018
However, now that net neutrality has been repealed the logistics surrounding internet usage remain uncertain.
Although any immediate change has not been seen, adaptations of new policy can be expected over time. ISPs and mobile carriers are now allowed to act freely in their regulation and prioritization of internet usage for consumers.
Tuesday’s court decision approving the AT&T and Time Warner merger could also shape the way the internet is used and regulated for years to come.
AT&T’s growth in the media world continues as they now own cellular, broadband and telecommunications services. This mirrors the growing ownership of similar media conglomerates such as Comcast and Verizon.
In all, with net neutrality out, service providers like AT&T could leverage usage in favor of content they own.
The fight for net neutrality however is not over. Many states have decided to take action against the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.”
According to the National Regulatory Research Institute, twenty-nine states have introduced bills proposing net neutrality legislation.
Other states are fighting for net neutrality through executive orders made by their governor’s. Whether or not state net neutrality laws preempt the FCC’s ruling remains a challenging question.
Consumers opposing the repeal can continue fighting by remaining vigilant to changes made by service providers. Although no immediate change is expected due to court battles and state orders, providers are expected to make slow changes.
AT&T and Verizon have leveraged usage in the past with their own video services not counting toward monthly data consumption. T-Mobile also made it free to access certain content.
Although this looks like a positive for consumers it shows how companies are willing to manipulate consumers into favoring their content over others. These examples provide an inside look as to how repealing net neutrality as well as media merging will affect consumption and usage in the future.