Netflix and other entertainment companies have started paying Internet providers for faster service, a concept that some believe will adversely affect competition. In order to discover whether the consumers are getting the speed and quality of service that has been promised, the FCC has opened an investigation. The agency begins this process just as it decides whether it actually holds jurisdiction over their businesses as no laws give the FCC the power to enforce Net neutrality.
“Consumers pay their ISP and they pay content providers like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Then when they don’t get good service, they wonder what is going on. I have experienced these problems myself and know how exasperating it can be.”
In an effort to protect Internet freedom, people have submitted over 19,000 public comments to the FCC in recent weeks.
“The thousands of comments from the public came in response to the agency’s proposal last month to institute a new set of rules that Mr. Wheeler and other commissioners said would keep the Internet free and maintain Net neutrality, the concept that Internet service providers should treat all legal Web traffic equally,” reports The New York Times.
On HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver suggested that viewers contact the FCC to protest Net neutrality rules that would allow these fast and slow lanes. As a result, so many people commented on the FCC website that it became gridlocked.
Despite the fact that the FCC does not have direct control, they have gotten service providers to agree to Net neutrality rules. At the same time, they have been criticized for not enforcing these rules, specifically after the deal between Netflix and Comcast in February.
“Even Netflix itself, after agreeing to pay Comcast, objected to the terms of the agreement, asserting that it should not have to pay to stream its video content to its customers,” notes the article. “Wheeler as well as many others at the FCC and in the Internet industry say that such agreements — known as peering or interconnection agreements — are not covered by Net neutrality, arguing that the concept extends only to the so-called last mile of Internet service to the consumer’s screen.”