FCC's net neutrality rules are officially repealed. Here's what that really means


FCC's net neutrality rules are officially repealed. Here's what that really means

BackyardProduction  Getty Images

BackyardProduction Getty Images

Net Neutrality rules are rolling back today.

The Republican-run Federal Communications Commission voted in December to repeal most of the Obama-era rules, which require internet providers to treat all online traffic equally.

The FCC said it had repealed the rules because they restrained broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from experimenting with new business models and investing in new technology. They're anxious the providers will charge consumers extra to reach particular sites and services in a speedy manner, either by directly billing them or by charging companies like Netflix, which could be expected to pass on the costs to their subscribers.

ISPs can charge access fees (known as "paid prioritization") to content providers like Google, Facebook, and Netflix in order to send content to consumers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last week the rollback will ensure more investment by providers and will ensure "better, faster, and cheaper Internet access and more broadband competition to the American people". Internet service providers are required only to publish information about how they manage their networks.

Thankfully, not necessarily. A number of states have passed state-level legislation re-enacting the net neutrality rules.

Media captionWhat is net neutrality and how could it affect you?

Some states are trying to ensure that net neutrality is in effect, these states include Washington, Montana, and NY; other states have legislation pending. On Thursday, with the official repeal date looming, dozens of senators sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to schedule a vote on the issue.

Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for the net neutrality rules.

Watch NOVA's recent video on how today's repeal of net neutrality may hurt-or help-everything from climate science to cybersecurity to medical research. "Hold the obituaries. Net neutrality is not dead", Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer said in a statement.

"Now, on June 11, these unnecessary and harmful internet regulations will be repealed and the bipartisan, light-touch approach that served the online world well for almost 20 years will be restored", Pai said in a statement last month.

"No one other than the giant cable companies thinks it's a good idea to let the giant cable companies dictate the speed and price of the content you view on the internet", says Rep.

According to the op-ed, Pai thinks that transferring power over the internet to ISPs will "protect consumers".

Last month, the Senate passed a measure to preserve the net neutrality rules.

Pai calls the FTC the "nation's premier consumer protection agency".

In practice, individuals will likely end up paying for better service, and companies and websites will pay for their content to load more quickly.

"We need a referee on the field who can throw a flag", former FCC Chairman and Obama appointee Tom Wheeler said at MIT during a panel discussion in support of rules like those he championed.

The FCC order that just took effect asserts authority to prevent states from pursuing laws inconsistent with the net neutrality repeal.