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Sunday, 16 November 2014

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Net neutrality sparks wide debate

Official plans to end net neutrality and let firms run fast and slow lanes for data have generated wide debate in the US.

More than three million comments about the proposed change were lodged with the US regulator overseeing the debate.


American President Barak Obama

"We cannot allow internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas," said President Obama in a video statement on the issue.

He said net neutrality had been built into the 'fabric' of the net since its creation and had been essential to its growth and continuing influence.

He called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to "answer the call" heard in the millions of comments left on its website in support of net neutrality and implement "the strongest possible rules" to protect the principle.

Net neutrality revolves around the idea that ISPs should not be allowed to manipulate the data flowing to customers.

The FCC is considering changing rules governing data traffic, following a court ruling in January that allowed ISP Verizon to charge to carry traffic from bandwidth-heavy services such as Netflix.

Net neutrality advocates have called on the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as 'Title Two telecommunications services' rather than their present status as 'information services'. They say this would allow the watchdog to treat the firms as utilities, allowing it to block fast-lane deals.

However, telecom industry leaders have questioned whether the FCC has the power to do this, and have warned it would create an anti-innovation "Government, may I?" culture.

ISPs say they need the ability to charge because without it they will cannot invest in and update America's net infrastructure. The FCC has suggested letting ISPs charge for different levels of internet access if they meet a new standard of "commercial reasonableness" that will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Many net firms object to the idea of charging, saying it will undermine net neutrality and lead to the creation of net fast and slow lanes.

- BBC

 

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