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FCC says the Internet is a utility, and this is why it matters
The FCC passed net neutrality and will now consider Internet access as a utility. Here are what the proponents and critics of net neutrality are saying that means for everyday people. - photo by Matthew Jelalian
Both proponents and critics are weighing in on the Federal Communication Commission's decision to uphold a policy of net neutrality.

The FCC voted in favor of net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, "with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure that no one whether government or corporate should control free open access to the Internet, reported National Public Radio.

According to the NPR report, net neutrality requires cable companies to act as neutral gateways. They cannot treat information from one website differently from information from another.

After the decision, reaction was divided along party lines. Democrats seemed to praise the FCC's decision, while Republicans lamented it.

CNBC reported that billionaire Mark Cuban feared the FCC could use net neutrality as an excuse to not only exert greater control over the Internet but other forms of communication as well.

The rules would mean that television as we know it is over, Cuban said. He asserted that the transmission of content over television is essentially the same as the transmission of content over the Internet. By that logic, he speculated that the FCC could determine television delivered by cable should be part of the open Internet.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told Reason Magazine that net neutrality is a solution to a problem that doesnt exist. According to Pai, the Internet has been slow to work well as is and putting it in the hands of the federal government is bound to inhibit innovation.

"Do you trust the federal government to make the Internet ecosystem more vibrant than it is today," Pai said. "Can you think of any regulated utility like the electric company or water company that is as innovative as the Internet?"

But ABC News reported that classifying the consumer broadband service as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act would help control what consumers are charged and their access to Internet service, which would be deemed something critical to society.

However the ruling will not prevent consumers from paying for better service.

That doesn't mean everyone gets the same level of Internet service remember, customers already pay for different speeds, reported USA Today. And the price of broadband could rise over the years as speeds increase and technology advances. What the FCC's rules would do is prevent an ISP from favoring content, blocking content, or other conduct that would harm consumers.
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