Part three in a series of three…
The Net Neutrality repeal put Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) in a position of power. However, ISPs will still have to reveal to the public their policies of “network management practices, performance, and commercial terms” to consumers and the FCC. So if ISPs do decide to charge more, block a website, or throttle traffic, they will have to make their practices public.
After the vote was passed to repeal Net Neutrality, The Verge reached out to ten ISPs to find out if they would voluntarily abide by the net neutrality laws or which aspects of the previous laws they plan to keep in the future. From the comments that The Verge received it seems that the two areas of concern for ISPs not abiding by the previous net neutrality laws are charging sites for faster internet connection and prioritization. As The Verge noted, it is highly unlikely that ISPs would block major portions of the web; however, giving priority to their own content and those of their partners is a definite possibility. And one that has been predicted to occur.
In general, ISPs have been very quiet after the net neutrality laws have been repealed but below is a look at the stance that the top three U.S.-based ISPs have taken on net neutrality:
On the Comcast website where it addresses net neutrality, the ISP states “we do not block, slow down, or discriminate against lawful content.” However, the company doesn’t address prioritizing paid content and according to The Verge, this used to be on the site and was removed in April. In short, it is unclear how Comcast will deal with the new change in net neutrality laws specifically when it comes to prioritization.
AT&T’s Senior Vice President of external and legislative affairs, Bob Quinn, did write in a blog post that the company will not block, throttle, or favor any website unless it is for security purposes. He stated: “[These commitments] represent a guarantee to our customers that we will provide service in an open and transparent way. They have been, and will continue to be, enforceable commitments. We will not remove that language and we will continue to update any changes we make to our network management practices.”
Verizon states that customers “can access and use the legal content, applications, and services of your choice, regardless of their source.” In addition Rich Young, a Verizon representative, commented to The Verge that even after the net neutrality repeal “our internet customers will continue to be able to go where they want and do what they want online.”
Verizon does currently have zero rated services and it could be a safe assumption that those services will continue.
With the public still uncertain about how ISPs will react to the lift in regulations, some users in their wrath about the repeal have been looking into using community or municipality owned internet access as a cheaper and potentially faster means rather than taking the commercial route.
With further change on the horizon, all facets involved in net neutrality – the supporters of the repeal, beneficiaries of the new regulations, protesters of the new policies – will have to decide how they will move forward with new rules, new opportunities, and new decisions.