The first modern telecommunications law passed in 1934. It formed the FCC. When cable was introduced in the 1070’s the FCC said they should be treated like the telephone carriers.
This and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 laid the ground work for what we now know as “net neutrality”.
So I first heard the term “net neutrality” in 2004. It was when the FCC made the “Brand X decision”. They decided to treat cable and DSL differently for regulatory purposes by deregulating cable. I have done a bit of research. Why was it called “The Brand X” decision. Apparently Brand X internet was a local Southern California internet provider in the Santa Monica area.
Originally it was because there was an ISP in North Carolina who was blocking a VOIP service that conflicted with their own.
In 2005 AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre warned that ISP’s want to demand a cut from every website just to reach their customers.
In 2006 In an attempt to explain why the consumer protections that exist for the phone system should not extend to the internet, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens says “The internet is a series of tubes”.
2008 Comcast blocks Bit Torrent and gets sued by the FCC. Comcast appeals and wins.
2012 AT&T blocks Apples Facetime unless the AT&T subscriber enters into a “mobile share” plan. AT&T is hit with lawsuits and they back down.
In 2014 the FCC chairman is forced to go on record that he is not a “Dingo” as John Oliver calls out the FCC for not protecting Net Neutrality.
So, as you can see there is plenty of reason to be concerned. Internet providers and telecoms want to protect their investment and I have no problem with this.
However is should be plainly evident by now that these large companies who provide an absolutely invaluable service are motivated by the bottom line, stock performance and stock holders. Imagine the electric company or gas company interfering or blocking some startup who has come up with an innovated way to save money using your electricity. Look at the solar industry. There is so much backlash from the local power utilities over solar. We went solar in 2012. I was told our rates would freeze. Well it turns out not only did our rates not freeze but the DWP wants to raise rates because they aren’t getting enough revenue because so many people are using solar. If the solar company had known the power company would do this, maybe they never would have started their business. Its the same with the ISP and Telecoms. What would their incentive be to innovate and integrate when they control the speed limit on the digital highway.
The internet is so pervasive that it should be treated as a public utility, indeed it is already. So why pretend its not?
One way or the other this will affect you. The question is what do you want?