FAQ: What's the FCC vote on net neutrality all about?

By , Network World |  Networking, FCC, ISP

The FCC has approved a notice of proposed rule making on the subject of net neutrality, and here are a few questions and answers to help shine a light on what that means.

FCC takes first step toward net neutrality rules

What exactly did the FCC do?

The FCC agreed to consider what regulations, if any, to impose on ISPs about the applications and services that they allow, ban or rate limit. The process calls for formally proposing rules and holding public hearings on them. A vote about the rules themselves will take place sometime next year.

What is net neutrality anyway?

It is the common name for creating and preserving what the FCC calls the "open Internet".

The FCC is trying to write rules that enforce six principles it says ISPs must uphold to preserve what the commission calls the "open Internet". These rules would tell ISPs to:* allow sending and receiving all lawful content.* allow all lawful applications and services.* allow all lawful devices that don't harm the network.* allow access to all network, application, service and content providers.* ensure there is no discrimination against particular lawful content, applications, services and devices.* reveal practices necessary network management that might limit the other five principles.

Who wants it?

A majority of the FCC, Google and other Internet-based companies, consumer advocacy groups and Internet luminaries such as Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee. They fear that without rules, ISPs will impose tiered service levels, making the top-level services so expensive as to rule out their use by innovators trying to start Internet-based businesses. They are also concerned that selectively banning certain applications such as VoIP will reduce consumer choice about how to make voice calls. There have been cases where ISPs blocked VoIP and rate-limited peer-to-peer traffic like that used for gaming and file sharing.

Who's opposed to it?

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