On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission approved its new “net neutrality” policy that reclassifies broadband as a utility and gives the agency more regulatory power over Internet providers. “Today is a red-letter day,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, explaining, “no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet.”
With the 3-2 vote — the dissents came from Republicans Michael O’Rielly and Ajut Pai, who argued the FCC was overstepping its authority — the commission will now lump service providers into Title II of the Telecommunications Act.
As NPR explained in the lead-up to Thursday, “Net neutrality is the concept that your Internet provider should be a neutral gateway to everything on the Internet, not a gatekeeper deciding to load some sites slower than others or impose fees for faster service.” Without the new rules, NPR‘s Eyder Peralta explained, “ISPs could theoretically take money from companies like Netflix or Amazon to speed up traffic to their sites.”
Take a look at the FCC’s fact sheet on the new policy here.
A few hours after the decision, Dave Bialis, Senior Vice President and Region Manager of Cox Communications, issued a statement that called the policy, “unnecessary government overreach that goes beyond net neutrality protections.” He said the company is “disappointed” the FCC implemented “80-year-old telephone regulations” for broadband.
Cox is one of Santa Barbara’s main Internet providers. Based in Georgia and serving more than 6.2 million customers across the country, the privately owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises has reported revenue of more than $9 billion annually.
“The adoption of Title II regulations leaves open the distinct possibility of new taxes and increased costs for consumers,” Bialis said. “The FCC decision is sure to be challenged in court causing a great deal of uncertainty that will have an impact on future investments and innovation.” He ended his statement by calling on Congress to take action and “deliver permanent net neutrality protections that we all support.”