Understanding the net neutrality repeal

A Jefferson City IT expert said Thursday's repeal of the net neutrality rule could mean slower content and higher fees. (Garrett Bergquist/KRCG 13)

A local IT expert on Thursday said the FCC's vote to repeal net neutrality could mean slower content and higher fees for internet users.

The FCC voted along party lines Thursday to end the Obama-era rule known as net neutrality, which required internet service providers to treat all online content equally. Prior to the rule, service providers sometimes hamstrung third-party applications to promote their own. For example, AT&T blocked Skype and other internet phone services on iPhones until 2009.

Clayton Hicklin, Huber & Associates' director of technical services, said ending the rule means internet service providers could resume the practice. He said service providers could charge more to expand your access to content.

"If, for example, your internet service provider was Comcast, and they provided a streaming video service, they could potentially be in competition with Netflix," he said. "They could potentially throttle Neflix's bandwidth in favor of their own content."

Hicklin said any such action would be subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has called net neutrality an unnecessary regulation that stifled innovation and kept more Americans from connecting to the internet. Technology firms say ending net neutrality means service providers could charge fees that smaller companies would not be able to pay. Supporters already are planning legal action to reinstate the rule, and some lawmakers from both parties have called for legislation that would codify net neutrality into law. Hicklin said the arguments ultimately boil down to whether the internet should be regulated like a business or a public utility.

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