Court Strikes Down FCC Rule - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Court Strikes Down FCC Rule

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A Federal Appeals court recently struck down a legal effort to protect competition on the web. The decision could allow internet service providers to improve access to sites requiring more bandwidth, such as Netflix. But supporters of the net neutrality concept say the court's decision could also compromise web access for consumers.

Service providers can now sell faster download speeds to the highest bidder, even if it slows down access to other websites.

"The internet service providers will be able to charge some of these large content providers, like Netflix, a fee, which will bring more revenues into the ISPs and help them to build out their system and get more capacity for the consumers. Of course, the negative of it is that when they do that, then there might not ever be any competition for Netflix," says
Randy Christmann, Public Service Commission.

A Federal Appeals Court struck down the FCC's net neutrality rule, which was put in place in 2010. The rule was meant to create a level playing field for online content providers. But some companies, such as Verizon, say the FCC over-stepped its legal authority.

"They said we're not going to be regulated over there. But then, the first thing they did was they regulated it, with a number of conditions including the provision that was struck down earlier this week," says David Crothers, North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives.

Proponents of net neutrality fear larger companies will be able to push their way to the front of the internet, making it difficult for other companies to compete. But, the court's decision could benefit consumers seeking faster, more affordable broadband access.

"You can have a situation where a content provider helps an internet service provider with payments of money or things like that to help them build up their network. So, that's good for the consumers. And in exchange, that service provider gives them access to their lines," says Christmann.

Crothers says he's not concerned.

"I don't think it's an overreaction or something to be concerned about from the industry. I think we'll look to see what Washington does, whether it's the FCC appealing it to the Supreme Court or Congress taking action, number one. Number two, I believe that the marketplace will probably bring an equilibrium to the whole internet service provider environment."

The FCC plans to appeal the ruling.

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