The Case for Rebooting the Network Neutrality Debate

Innovation and Economic Growth, Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Networks and Infrastructure and Net Neutrality

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

Barbara van Schewick

Source

The Atlantic (online), May 6, 2014

Summary

In the United States, the public supports network neutrality, the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not control online content and services. Allowing ISPs to block startups discourages investment. Europe adopted neutrality rules when ISPs began to stifle innovation.

Policy Relevance

The FCC should adopt strong network neutrality rules for the United States.

Main Points

  • In 2013, Netflix users experienced a drop in signal quality when ISPs refused to upgrade parts of their network until Netflix paid for access.
     
  • Originally, the architecture of the Internet did not allow ISPs and other telecommunications carriers to control the content, applications, and services offered online.
     
  • In the 1990s, technology changed, giving ISPs more control over what happened online.
     
    • Consumers, innovators, and investors had become accustomed to freedom of choice.
       
    • The FCC stepped in to stop ISPs from blocking and discriminating against certain content and applications.
       
    • The FCC passed basic net neutrality rules in 2010.
       
  • In 2011, some telecommunications carriers disallowed access to Google Wallet; investors hesitated to fund applications likely to be disfavored by ISPs.
     
  • In 2014, the FCC proposed allowing ISPs to charge innovators fees for access to Internet users; small startups and entrepreneurs would be unable to pay such fees, stifling innovation.
     
  • In 2009, European Union (EU) rules allowed ISPs to block or discriminate against online services.
     
    • Carriers blocked sites critical of their business practices, and competing apps like Skype.
       
    • In response, the EU adopted strong network neutrality rules.
       
  • The FCC should adopt strong net neutrality rules for the United States, prohibiting blocking and discrimination.
     
    • The rules should be straightforward and certain.
       
    • The rules should be flexible, to allow ISPs to manage their networks and encourage investment in infrastructure.
       

 

Get The Article

Find the full article online

Search for Full Article

Share