Posted on July 28th, 2017 in Net Neutrality
Now that we know what net neutrality is and its effects on the wireless industry, it’s time to ask an important question — what will happen if the provision is dismantled? What type of chaos will happen to our industry? Is this something we should worry about?
In the last part of our blog series, we will examine what could happen if net neutrality is done away.
Consumer Protections in Danger
One of the major issues about the end to net neutrality is what will happen to the consumer. As we mentioned in earlier blogs, net neutrality allows the consumer to use the internet without hindrance from the service provider. But without net neutrality, this means ISPs can throttle or even block traffic in favor of other content.
In addition, there are major concerns about privacy issues. By ending net neutrality, this gives bigger ISPs the opportunity to sell customers’ browsing data and other private information to third parties.
Net Neutrality Leads to Uncertainty
This does not mean that net neutrality is without flaws. By treating broadband providers like a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, it results in harming the industry. According to the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISP), by treating providers like utilities, this has harmed the industry by undermining investor confidence. In a recent WISP member survey, 80 percent of those who responded say the regulation has caused delays in network expansion and services and has imposed significant compliance costs.
But by doing away with net neutrality, this will mean the industry is no longer regulated as a utility which will assist in the growth of the industry, especially in rural areas where the choice of internet providers is limited.
Is There a Solution?
WISP had recently filed comments to the FCC stating that the commission has a “golden opportunity” to change the regulation for the better. Yes, net neutrality ensures an open and competitive environment that protects consumers from privacy issues. But the provisions do hurt the expansion of smaller networks. In its filing with the FCC, WISP stated: “…The imposition of heavy-handed, ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulations on small broadband providers that are less able to accommodate the costs, burdens, and uncertainties of the comprehensive Title II regime.”
It’s unclear what the FCC will do if the regulations are dismantled. In May, 70 small broadband providers had submitted a joint letter to the FCC to turn back the clock and return to the “pre-2015 environment in which light-touch regulation enabled our business to get off the ground and become successful.” Time will tell what will happen next.