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Critical decision ahead for the future of net neutrality


Critical decision ahead for the future of net neutrality

The FCC is preparing for a vote that would restore federal net neutrality regulations and regain regulatory authority over ISPs.

The goal of net neutrality is to guarantee that internet users' decisions, not ISPs', control what happens online.

The FCC released its proposed guidelines in early April and has since received praise for various reasons. Specifically, the regulations require that mobile carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon stop lowering the quality of their customers' videos. The plan also includes stricter rules to prevent ISPs from bypassing net neutrality at data entry points in their networks. It also supports net neutrality laws at the state level, such as California's. The proposed regulations are causing controversy because they might allow mobile ISPs to prioritize certain applications over others. This would create "fast lanes" for those applications, ensuring better performance overall, particularly when the network is congested.

Network slicing techniques known as "fast lanes" are presently being investigated by T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. These lanes would provide preference to particular apps that the ISPs choose, such as gaming and video conferencing. The decision has raised concerns about whether it aligns with net neutrality principles. The draft rules clarify that app providers will not need to pay for faster service.

ISP-controlled fast lanes can limit customer choice, hinder competition, hurt startups, and strengthen the dominance of big digital platforms. Net neutrality supporters believe that any form of prioritization goes against these principles. They imagine an internet where users' decisions, not internet service providers', shape online achievement and progress. Fast lanes could prioritize dominant apps over smaller businesses and apps that add diversity to the internet. A variety of stakeholders are concerned about the draft order's handling of "fast lanes" and "slow lanes." They want the FCC to explicitly forbid these ISP activities in its final rule.

The discussion focuses on the FCC's role in ensuring a fair digital environment. It emphasizes the need for clear rules to prevent ISPs from unfairly favoring certain online content. As the FCC approaches its vote on April 25, 2024, internet users and the tech community anticipate swift action that will reshape the rules surrounding net neutrality.

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