So, What?s an Ombudsman, Anyway? What The FCC?s Net Neutrality Decision Means for Consumers

Posted on 03 July, 2014 by Courtney Senecal

The Federal Communications Commission has been in the spotlight again and again for its role in the regulation of the Internet. As our appetite for electronic data increases, so too does the need for government action to protect consumers like you and me from the lobbying and politicking of large telecom corporations. According to the FCC, an ombudsman, or mediator, is necessary.

Industry giants like Verizon and Comcast have been fighting the FCC in court for years over landmark legislation like the Open Internet Act and what has now been termed ?Net Neutrality.? The big news is that the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of even opening the idea of legislation for discussion, and this means big changes could be in store for consumers of popular online vendors like Netflix, Hulu and Facebook.

Want a Life In The Fast Lane? Good Luck Getting There?

The FCC?s proposal is centered on the concept of ?privileged? bandwidth, which Internet content providers could pay for access to in order to ensure that their products gets to the consumer fastest. Does that sound unfair? That?s because it is.

Allowing huge, established telecom companies to determine which content providers get first choice of the prime online real-estate would essentially choke the life out of thousands of start-up web companies, and the idea of going up against immense corporate budgets in competition for customers isn?t a recipe for encouraging potential entrepreneurs.

It Ain?t Over Yet: The Internet Is Still Ours

The beauty of the whole thing is that the FCC voted in favor only of a discussion of the topic, leading up to potential legislation from within the halls of Congress. The agency will be taking public response until the early Fall, at which time a review process will take place and an updated proposal will be put forward.

Normally a snore-worthy topic, opinions and conversations about the fate of Net Neutrality and the FCC rulings ? as well as the ever-changing status quo ? are heating up. The discourse John Oliver ignited months ago is actually hilariously informative and not to be missed:

Net Neutrality is a hot-button topic not just in America, but around the world. Global commercial systems are completely dependent upon the internet for their survival, and online content providers provide jobs throughout The United States and abroad. Potentially restrictive legislation could spell doom for the recovering American economy, and further damage consumer faith in the marketplace. I think we all know where that train goes.

The Rich Get Richer?The Poor? Well, We Know What Happens to Them…

Giving certain content providers a ?fast lane? to the eyes and wallets of consumers is as inherently unfair as it is harmful to the average consumer?s online experience. Imagine if you were streaming a movie from your friend?s how-to website, and suddenly the download slows to a crawl because the person next to you is watching Netflix on their phone? No one wants a reunion with 56k download speeds. No one.

The best way to make sure our online rights are protected is to be active, like the quartet of protestors who got thrown out of the FCC lobby preceding the latest vote (Okay, maybe not that active). The public has until the Fall of this year to make their voices heard, so make like John Oliver and contact the FCC and let them know that you like your internet just the way it is: Open, unbiased, and equally accessible to all.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Share them with us in the comments below.

About the Author

Posted on 03 July, 2014 by Courtney Senecal

Courtney is a writer, editor, content marketing strategist, and a regular contributor on the WebNet Hosting blog; covering topics that range from managed hosting and live and on demand streaming services to all the latest industry developments.