Recent news from across the ocean puts the collective global spotlight back on Net Neutrality. Potential changes in the European Union’s (EU) telecom laws could allow telecommunications companies to charge customers for a “Fast Lane” of internet traffic. Passing this legislation would take the EU, and the world, a step further away from Net Neutrality.
The European Parliament’s (EU) industry committee’s potential legislation could allow telecommunications companies to create “specialized services,” such as internet Fast Lanes for a premium. This same legislation also explicitly bans throttling and blocking internet traffic. The ban upholds a key element of Net Neutrality.
This package of legislation will be up for voting on April 3rd, 2014 by the EU Parliament.
What’s the Fast Lane?
An internet Fast Lane could be an exclusive, higher-speed pipe to and from the internet for customers who want to pay telecommunications companies an extra premium for access.
Telecommunications companies, like Stephouse Networks, control pipes and paths to and from the internet. Currently, all traffic, whether you’re Facebook or an independent blog, share the same internet traffic lanes. It’s up to the telecommunications companies to fairly and neutrally direct that traffic.
Earlier this year, the U.S.’s Federal Communications Committee (FCC) struck down rules that prevent discrimination in favor or against particular networks and another rule that prohibited network blocking. All that’s left is a rule that companies need to be transparent about their blocking or throttling practices.
There’s nothing stopping U.S. telecommunications companies from creating these Fast Lanes, other than drawing consumer and brand wrath. For instance, grassroots efforts like Save The Internet continue to collect public support for pushing the FCC to restore Net Neutrality protections to their full capabilities to combat oppressive ISP practices. Also, brands like Netflix have warned ISPs against hampering with Net Neutrality:
“Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP, we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open Internet they are paying their ISP to deliver.” – Excerpt from Reed Hastings (CEO) and David Wells (CFO) Letter to Netflix Investors 2014
With recent news, it looks like the EU might have a first look at what telecommunications will be like if these new laws pass and telecommunications companies are able to create their “specialized services.” These specialized services remain vague and without definition. However, many people assume these will be Fast Lanes for customers with the money to pay for them.
We’ll have to wait until April 3rd and see.
Well, I don’t want to just sit back and watch!
We feel you. That’s why we continue to hold our stance in upholding principles of net neutrality. We built this network off of the fair, open nature of the internet. We continue to provide that same kind of internet access to our communities.
While there are countless opinion editorials about what the FCC should do, even by former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, informing your local representative and taking part in grassroots efforts like Save The Internet might be the best way to make a difference. Continue to educate yourselves and your friends and family about how the internet works and what your options are as a consumer is another great idea.
For example, did you know that Comcast is only going to uphold its Net Neutrality principles until 2018? That’s wrong. Expiration dates are for groceries and not your freedom of speech.
Here are some handy links to get in touch with your local rep:
Of course, we’re here to answer any questions that you might have about high-speed internet service, data traffic, and other topics.