Yancey Strickler, CEO and co-founder of global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, has been a consistent and vocal advocate for equality in internet service. He has joined a broad coalition of voices confronting internet service providers who are determined to denigrate service for some. Broadband providers want more control over their service thus allowing to create “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” – charging more for speedier service. Net neutrality advocates believe that all internet is equal and one content provider should not be treated in an inferior fashion. The FCC Chairman has been riding the fence on which way the FCC is going to go but what is certain is that not everyone will be happy, and perhaps no one will be pleased with the final results.
Strickler recently released a statement, in part generated by a report in WSJ.com, on the evolving approach the FCC is taking to regulating internet broadband providers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to announce his approach by end of year.
“We strongly believe that full Title II reclassification is the only way to guarantee an equal Internet for everyone. An internet with fast and slow lanes is an unequal and unfair internet. Since this rumored proposal doesn’t embrace full reclassification and allows paid prioritization deals, it’s a non-starter. We — along with millions of Americans — strongly believe that the Internet is a public utility and should be treated as one. Anything short of full Title II reclassification throws the door wide open to a fundamental shift in how the Internet works. We are strongly opposed to any proposal that puts politics and big business above the rights of the public and an open Internet.”
Internet providers currently charge consumers varying rates for speedier service. If they are allowed to – they will also charge content producers for the type of service they receive and double dip on fees. Broadband providers would like to be classified as “information services” which garners less regulation. Net Neutrality advocates state providers should be classified as a common carrier – similar to a public utility. In this case the public captures more clout because in the end – they are the ones that will pay.
The report in WSJ stated that Wheeler is taking a “hybrid approach” but nothing is final as of yet. In a situation like this Wheeler is probably running things up the flagpole to see which way the wind is blowing.
The FCC is said to be “skeptical of a flat ban on paid prioritization”. Wheeler has also said the FCC “won’t tolerate harmful discrimination”.
Perhaps the final solution will see all sides in court as the Net Neutrality team believes internet access is a public service that benefits all. Curtailing access by degrading some and improving service for others is a non-starter for most. Broadband providers of course want to charge more for their service something that will inevitably push greater cost on consumers.