After a change in leadership at the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast dropped its promise regarding not instituting paid prioritization, Ars Technica reports. The new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, plans on reversing former president Obama’s net neutrality rules, which banned internet service providers from blocking or slowing content.
This means that Comcast, the largest home internet provider in the U.S. with more than 23.5 million residential subscribers, may be withdrawing from its previous promise to follow the principles of net neutrality – the notion that internet service provides must treat all data on the internet equally, without discriminating against users, sites, platforms, etc. According to Ars Technica, instead of abiding by its previous promise, Comcast “vaguely” says it won’t “discriminate against lawful content,” or impose “anti-competitive paid prioritization.” This suggests that the company may eventually offer fast lanes, or avenues through which companies can pay to have their content delivered more quickly.
“Comcast’s promise not to “discriminate” suggests that its paid prioritization would be available to anyone who wants it and can afford it,” Ars Tehcnica says. “Offering paid fast lanes to anyone at similar rates could help prevent the Federal Trade Commission from stepping in to block unfair trade practices.”
However, Ars Republica reports that Comcast has stated it will not “block, throttle, or otherwise impair your online activity,” meaning internet users should not experience their content being blocked or slowed.
What these means for decisions makers:
Ars Technica says that decisions makers in the medical field who utilize telemedicine applications would benefit from paid prioritization – paying for content to run quickly and smoothly will help medical experts deliver more efficient care to patients and keep medical facilities running. However, there are existing rules that enable internet service providers to provide isolated network capacity for telemedicine, for solutions like voice over internet protocol phone offerings, heart monitors, energy consumption sensors, and more.
Decision makers whose companies cannot afford paid prioritization or tolls to Comcast will suffer, Ars Technica says, regardless of their field. This suggests that these companies risk being subjected to slower or blocked internet content, which can hinder their workflow and customer service processes.
Ars Technica also published part of a letter written to Pai by members of over 200 business and trade organizations in response to the net neutrality reversal:
“‘Without these rules, Internet service providers will be able to favor certain websites and e-businesses… over others by putting the ones that can pay in fast lanes and slowing down or even blocking others…Businesses may have to pay a toll just to reach customers. This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground.’”