Net neutrality protections on a national level are poised to return in 2022. This, in a nutshell, is what’s happening with what’s termed “net neutrality” this year. When 2021 wrapped up, that was also the end to the 2017 repeal of protections meant to shield consumers from some of the harmful players in the internet service world. So, just what does the return of net neutrality protections mean for internet users in 2022? For one thing, it means the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will once again be taking beneficial steps when it comes to online service and usage. We further explore the latest net neutrality news below.
New FCC Leadership Is Promising
One of the reasons for the shift back to net neutrality in 2022 is because of some new additions to the FCC appearing to be more amenable to implementing consumer-focused standards and practices. For instance, one of the new agency appointees is a supporter of the 2015 Open Internet Order. This is what essentially put the FCC in charge of broadband service providers in the first place until the 2017 repeal.
Why Net Neutrality Is Important in a Post-Pandemic World
The heart of the whole internet neutrality debate is just how much say federal agencies should have over broadband service providers. The one thing that’s clear when it comes to broadband internet service is the need for it to be fairly and affordably provided in a consistent way. The main reason for this increased need is because of how the pandemic has affected internet usage habits and service needs. Today, it’s common for many households and individuals to need reliable and affordable internet service for tasks involving:
• Online learning
• Remote working
• Video conferencing and chatting
• Downloading and uploading
Congress did set aside $20 billion to help those in need gain access to broadband service during the pandemic. However, some major ISPs have been resistant to the widespread adoption of service guidelines and regulations.
The Net Neutrality Fight in California
California already has a state-based net neutrality law in effect, but it’s currently being challenged in the Ninth Circuit federal appellate court. The law as it applies in California prevents internet service providers from doing anything that violates net neutrality guidelines.
ISPs Already ‘Caught in the Act’ of Violating Net Neutrality Rules
AT&T is one of the top ISPs that ran into some net neutrality issues in California. In this instance, the company was upping the prices for service options it didn’t have a vested interest in promoting. Essentially, the company was making streaming alternatives more expensive to make its own products seem like the more affordable option. There was another situation in California where Verizon was caught throttling or slowing down internet speeds for a firefighter command center. This actually happened during the state’s wildfire issues, which makes the offense even worse.
If California’s net neutrality law remains in effect, industry insiders in the state note it won’t really matter much what happens federally. Even so, it’s not clear how much individual states would be able to do without additional support from a federal approach to net neutrality. It’s also expected that some of the leading internet service providers in the country will push back against net neutrality regulations like what’s happening in California. This could result in more legal wrangling and challenges.
When all is said and done, it’s ultimately up to internet users to make their voices heard and let lawmakers and federal regulators know they want appropriate protections from unfair ISP practices. However, it does look like there’s a noticeable shift towards net neutrality in 2022.