Fight over 'internet freedom' impacts consumers and providers

Fight over 'internet freedom' impacts consumers and providers

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It is a term many people do not recognize, but for anyone who surfs the web or streams videos online, net neutrality makes sure internet providers do not deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites and apps.

Tuesday, Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced the agency wants to repeal net neutrality.

The regulation approved during the Obama Era was created in an effort to prevent internet providers, like Cox and AT&T, from picking favorites when it comes to which companies have better speeds across the internet compared to others.

"Getting these utility style heavy handed regulations off the internet will encourage more companies to invest," Pai said.

Opponents of the repeal believe getting rid of net neutrality would open the door for certain companies, such as Netflix or Amazon, to pay extra for faster internet speeds, while those who do not pay lag behind.

"I think many people might not know that internet providers can throttle your speed," Fox 8 Tech Consultant Nam Nguyen said. "If you can't afford the cost as your competitor can and your competitor is buying out all the services, it's going to look like your competitor is doing a lot better and services are superior to yours."
Nguyen compared repealing net neutrality to letting only a certain type of car bypass traffic.

"Let's say I-10 was sponsored by Dodge and if you drive a Dodge, you get to drive in the Dodge lane which is really pretty and really fast and doesn't have traffic. If you don't drive a Dodge, you drive in the other lane and then you're just stuck with everybody else's traffic," he said.

Tuesday, AT&T emailed a comment to Fox 8 about net neutrality.

"Tomorrow, the FCC will release a draft order that will bring to an end this country's brief and ill-conceived experiment with heavy-handed regulation of the internet.  Abandoning decades of prudent, bipartisan regulatory restraint, the Wheeler FCC took the draconian step of dragging broadband access services into the morass of common carriage regulation, imposing a new conduct standard that effectively gave the FCC a blank check to shut down innovative new ISP services that consumers want based on little more than speculative concerns. While we look forward to reading the details of the order, this action will return broadband in the U.S. to a regulatory regime that emphasizes private investment and innovation over lumbering government intervention, ending the regulatory uncertainty created by the 2015 rules and the deleterious impact such uncertainty had on investment and job creation.

"Especially the smaller companies because those are the companies that don't have the wherewithal to higher a bunch of lawyers and accountants to comply with regulations. They were the ones who told us, look it's hard enough as it is for us to raise capital and invest in some of these areas, especially in rural or low income areas, these regulations don't make that any easier," Pai said.

The FCC will vote on the possible repeal of net neutrality next month.