Ever since the FCC lost the case where it tried to defend its position on net neutrality, there has been a battle between tech giants, like Google and Netflix, and ISPs like Verizon and Comcast. This back and forth has led to the striking of uneasy deals, anger from consumers and even propaganda campaigns. Now, the tech giants have called for a mediator — the FCC itself.
“Segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users,” Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman said in a statement. “The FCC must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers.”
The bickering between the tech companies and the providers largely comes down to who will shoulder the cost of upgrades. Verizon’s argument is that Netflix is causing a great deal of congestion on its network, and should thus pay more for the the ability to distribute its mass of content. So this brings the argument back to a “fast lane” system.
From an ISP’s point of view, if one service is causing congestion, either that service has to pay more, or the ISP has to pay more to upgrade its system to handle the load. If the ISP upgrades, users who don’t use that particular service could potentially end up footing the bill along with all other customers. This shifts the blame from ISPs to Netflix and others.
The counter-argument is that by instituting a ‘fast lane,’ certain services get preferential treatment, and the Internet turns from an open access network into a pay-to-play network. And the blame is back on the ISPs.
The Internet Association, an advocacy group for Internet companies, sees pay-to-play in a very negative light and offers three mandates for the FCC to consider:
- Internet users should get what they want, when they want it.
- Internet users should get what they pay for.
- All networks should have equal protection.
The sabre-rattling from both sides is a result of that court decision back in January, which essentially rendered net neutrality useless. If the FCC does not step in to write some tangible and clear rules, the fight could continue for years, taking the Internet on a very unpredictable trajectory.