FCC Revives Net Neutrality: Will This Affect You?

Your internet speeds may be a little faster going forward.

In a vote that could boost your internet speeds, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) voted today to re-institute net neutrality regulations. With a 3-2 vote along party lines, the commission adopted the rules under which Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and other providers cannot favor some types of internet traffic over others, Deadline reports.

This decision reclassifies broadband internet as a Title 2 common carrier service, bringing it under the FCC's control. Moreover, the Obama-era rules prevent providers from throttling or slowing down internet traffic to sites that do not pay a fee.

The recent net neutrality rules enacted by the FCC resemble those adopted in 2015 when they voted to reclassify internet service as a common carrier or the same regulatory classification that was given to phone service. The commission, with a majority of Democratic members, sought reclassification to provide the FCC with the regulatory authority to establish significant net neutrality rules.

However, a Republican-controlled FCC reversed net neutrality less than three years later, after Donald Trump became president, causing widespread protests online and outside the FCC offices. According to opponents of net neutrality, the internet has not deteriorated into a tiered system of fast lanes even without such regulation. New regulations, however, have tempered internet provider behavior, according to supporters.

Despite numerous attempts over the past 15 years, Congress has not been able to pass legislation codifying net neutrality. "Four years ago the pandemic changed life as we know it. We were told to stay home, hunker down, and live online, said Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC chair who sought to reinstate the rules, per Deadline. "So much of work, school, and healthcare migrated to the internet. If we wanted to engage with the world, we needed to do it all through a broadband connection," she said at the hearing.

"It became clear that no matter who you are or where you live, you need broadband to have a fair shot at digital age success. It went from nice-to-have to need-to-have for everyone, everywhere. Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services—the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life—have some basic oversight."  

Once again, the FCC will play a significant role in preventing broadband service providers from blocking, slowing down, or creating pay-to-play internet fast lanes. Also, by providing oversight, the FCC will strengthen its authority to address broadband outages.

Proponents of the regulations said that with increased oversight, it would be easier for the FCC to monitor and respond to cyberattacks, which have targeted major companies, health systems, and local governments in recent months. Following publication in the Federal Register, the reinstated rules will take effect 60 days later.