The Future of the Internet? The FCC

The Future of the Internet?

Gary Allen on Business – May 18, 2014 – Broadcast Preview

The Internet Highway

The Internet Highway

On the program this weekend a discussion about the future of the internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this past week proposed its new version of the “net neutrality rules” that might prevent internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites, but would also allow them to make special deals with companies for preferential treatment. In simpler terms, the big telecom providers that control the plumbing of the internet would in theory have to provide a basic speed or service level to everyone, but would be free to cut special deals with companies (think content and service providers) willing to pay for greater speed.

The implications of this kind of rule change are deep and compelling. The proposed regulations would change the very fabric of the internet in favor of large companies with big budgets receiving preferential treatment over smaller or more innovative companies. The net neutrality rules, which in theory are supposed to protect the interests of all parties, could spark a tiered system favoring those who could pay more. That is the concern for opponents of the proposed rules. And there are many opponents of the proposed rules that sometimes make for strange bedfellows.

The proposal has two very powerful industry groups at odds with each other with telecom giants stating they need to charge tech firms more for the faster connections in order to support expansion of hi-speed connectivity to consumers. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley says the new rules will stifle the internet, reduce creativity and economic freedom, while introducing unneeded and uncertainty to a thriving technology marketplace.

Also within the proposal the FCC is seeking comment on the possibility of treating broadband providers as utilities, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC has upset parties on all sides as it tries to write regulations that many are saying are not needed. This weekend on the program, I will spend some time discussing this subject.

All that and much more on Gary Allen on Business on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 8 AM on KNBR 680 AM.

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