Professor Sondra Doolin
8 December, 2014
An Open Internet
Net neutrality can better be understood as, the open internet. While the net neutrality debate has many aspects, in this paper we focus on one crucial issue: the regulation of net neutrality. Through understanding the background of net neutrality, ISP classification types, and paid prioritization, we can better regulate equal Internet traffic practices. An open Internet can only be achieved if broadband ISPs are reclassified as “common carriers” for the regulation of net neutrality and internet consumers. In order to better understand net neutrality, we need to understand what it is and how it has evolved. The “net neutrality” debate, as it has emerged over the last five years, is a social, political and economic debate over the public information network known as the Internet and the duties of its private carriers, which include telephone and cable companies and other Internet service providers (ISPs). In the early 2000s, questions surrounding the rights of Internet carriers to block certain network attachments and control access to emergent applications or content providers led to a call to protect “network neutrality” (Wu, 2003). Protection of net neutrality needs the FCC to reclassify broadband ISPs as “common carriers,” a designation reserved for companies who are mandated by the government to provide the same service, without discrimination, to everyone. Currently, broadband providers are classified as “information services,” which are not obligated to provide the same service to everyone. This was the core of the recent Verizon court case; because Verizon was not classified as a “common carrier,” the FCC lacked the legal authority to regulate it like one. The only way around this would be if Verizon was classified as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 would impose some guidelines for how ISP and data operators should behave when managing their networks, while also ensuring that ISPs would have to abide fairly to internet traffic and increased government regulations. If Title II changes its guidelines, ISP companies such as Verizon would face strict common carrier and subscriber network operator rules, thus, allowing content provider companies and the average internet consumer equal internet traffic practices. President Obama made a statement that an open internet can only be achieved by reclassifying broadband as a public utility, also known as a “common carrier”. In referencing President Obama’s position on net neutrality, I too, believe that all internet traffic should be treated equally. If ISPs are regulated under Title II, they’ll have less freedom to do what they want and potentially, less expansion of their networks, which would allow more ISP companies, big or small, the opportunity to compete. Thus, allowing equal internet rails and regulation of net neutrality. Furthermore, classifying ISPs as common carriers would allow the FCC to ban what’s known as “paid prioritization.” This term refers to ISPs charging third party companies for speedier access to those ISPs’ customers. For example, if an internet consumer’s ISP is Verizon, and the consumer uses Netflix and Facebook; Netflix pays Verizon to “prioritize” its traffic, while Facebook does not, the internet consumer would most likely experience faster speeds on Netflix, than on Facebook. An arrangement through paid prioritization would be great for ISPs because they could prioritize their third party companies for speedier access, however that isn’t ethical if the company is already paying to use the ISPs access. In that instance, it seems as the ISPs are double-dipping on the third party company by charging for something the company is already paying for. Recently, this has actually happened. Netflix signed deals with Comcast and Verizon to increase the speed and quality of their streaming...
Cited: McMillan, Robert. “The Simple Question Nobody’s Asking About Net Neutrality.” Wired Magazine. Advance Publications, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
Wu, Tim. 2003. “Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination.” Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law, vol. 2, pp. 141–79.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document