Streaming Is Safe for Now Thanks to Net Neutrality Ruling

Net neutrality is vital to the future of streaming video. Without it, 4K streaming could be slowed to a trickle unless streaming services decide to pay for fast lanes. For now, we can celebrate the victory of the FCC in their vote to reclassify broadband as a common carrier telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, which gives the agency the power to create regulations, including rules that forbid an ISP from slowing down streaming services.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is not happy with the decision and their propaganda machine is already in motion. On the NCTA website, the group claims the reclassification will result in rising costs and therefore higher prices to consumers and will squelch investment and innovation.

While doubtful that the reclassification will have the ill effects touted by the NCTA, what is certain is that consumers will have a government entity to which they can complain about foul practices of their Internet provider.

FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler said he plans to take a new approach to broadband rules and regulations and promised that ISPs won’t be subject to rate regulation and tariffs and other rules that apply to traditional telecom (cable TV) companies.

“Let’s be real clear, this is no more regulating the Internet than the First Amendment regulates free speech in our country,” Wheeler explained at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as reported by

"We are for an open Internet," Wheeler said of the FCC. "That is not the regulation of the Internet, but rules that say no government or company can block the people's ability to use the Web.”

The FCC’s press release of February 26, 2015 describes specific, new “bright line rules” which are:

  • No Blocking: Broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Throttling: Broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
  • No Paid Prioritization: Broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

The bright-line rules against blocking and throttling will prohibit harmful practices that target specific applications or classes of applications.

The rules will also insure greater transparency requiring ISPs to disclose in a consistent format, promotional rates, fees and surcharges, and data caps. In other words, ISPs will have to explain in plain English different pricing plans and notify you in advance of any data caps.

How will the Internet be different now that the FCC will watch over internet providers? It won’t be different. That’s the point. We can continue to enjoy streaming services without hindrance or being required to pay more for them. We will be able to freely go to the websites of our choosing. And, we won’t have to pay more to our ISP for 4K streaming from Netflix.

Victor Pickard, Assistant Professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication warns that the public will need to keep the pressure on the FCC in the future.

“The battle continues," he said. "The history of media reform tells us that if we ignore core systemic problems like the power of monopolies and the lack of structural diversity, important protections like net neutrality can be short-lived. Anti-net neutrality forces will no doubt try to chip away at it once public attention wanes. This calls for continued vigilance; we cannot declare victory and tune out. Structural alternatives to the Internet monopolies are still needed. The battle for Internet freedom has only just begun.”

Check out the rest of his thoughtful article How the Internet was Saved.

For more information, see the FCC’s full press release .

StudioApt HT's picture

I love you guys, but on this subject I have to disagree. Wheeler wouldn't speak before congress, the 320 page document laying out ALL the new rules and regulations still has not been released to the public even after its been voted on, and that's a good thing? Let's say Wheeler is right and truthful about his claims that this is all benign. What happens when someone else takes his or the others' place? Will the rules stay the same? Admittedly, we probably won't notice any changes for a while. But don't let anyone tell "this is a win for you" before they show you all the cards they are holding. How can you read the fine print unless they show it to you?

This pertains, or will pertain, to more than just streaming rules.

I noticed you took down the picture of the smiling members of the FCC. Good idea. The picture you had up of the FCC members is not the one taken after the FCC's vote. Guarantee you not all were smiling as the vote was 3-2, and at least one of them, Ajit Pai, was very outspoken, warning against the 320 pages he had read but could not disclose to the public. In one interview he described them succinctly as "solutions that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist using authority we don't have."

Also listen closely to people who complain about and warn of "internet monopolies." Mono means one.

Finally, do you think it is wise to give authority over the internet to those who could not get right just one website?'s backend has STILL not been fixed.

BuzzMan's picture

When was the last time increased government regulation was of real benefit to the consumer? You are wrong on this one! What problem needs to be fixed? Remember you never want to let the camel get his nose under the edge of the tent ..... overall love S & V.

HTDUDE57's picture

With all due respect to your magazine, it seems like you have gone out of your way to support what the FCC has done and way out of your way to dismiss it's critics.

The bottom line is that now that the government has classified the internet as a utility, this may well result in increased costs to consumers as well as potential politicization. The IRS targeting scandal proves how the government can be used to target political opponents whether they be individuals or businesses.

Below is a balanced politifact article that speaks to the potential cost increase to consumers.

Fred Manteghian's picture
Forgive me for being skeptical of 300 + pages of regulations that were not disclosed to the people of this country who have to live with them before they were voted in! The 3-2 vote along strict party lines and the rumors that the White House was heavily interfering in what should be an independent agency are enough to convince me something stinks.
Jonasandezekiel's picture

Ms. Gonzales... not a very good comeback on your part. Net neutrality will be another big mess caused by this regulatory crazy regime. Where was the internet broken?? Everything had been functioning just FINE, there was no need for this control hungry government to step in save us from ourselves. What a disaster.

Thomas J. Norton's picture
"We can continue to enjoy streaming services without hindrance or being required to pay more for them. We will be able to freely go to the websites of our choosing. And, we won’t have to pay more to our ISP for 4K streaming from Netflix." Who is to say we won't have to pay more for them? You expect the ISPs to eat the cost of the higher bandwidth needed for streaming 4K? If they can't charge more, the only solution will be to keep the bandwidth down and thus decrease quality. On the positive side, while this might well reduce any benefit from streaming 4K, and the time to download it, it might prove a boon to Ultra HD on Blu-ray! We have government regulation of public utilities because there's otherwise little competition for those utilities due to their nature (you can't have two or more companies sharing the same electrical feed to your house). On the other hand, where once we were limited to one way to get our 100+ channels of television--the local (and usually much hated) cable company, DirecTV and Dish now helps keep them on their toes. And there's more than one way to access the Internet and its streaming services. But with Net Neutrality, another possible downside could be a looser government policy allowing mergers of big ISPs. The result: government further regulates Internet rates, which is guaranteed to keep them high. It's also doubtful that the FCC has legal authority to regulate the Internet. It's the job of congress to decide if this is a good idea and legislate accordingly.
Barb Gonzalez's picture
Thank you all for your comments on this article. I want to be clear that the opinions and content I have expressed here are solely my own and not necessarily the opinions of Sound and Vision or the parent company. As for government I have been following this, it appears that the FCC has the consumer's interest in mind. That being said, I am not so naive to believe that the government can always protect my interest. But, if I have the choice between having to put my faith into the government or the broadband providers who have repeatedly shown that they do not care about my interests, I'll take government regulation. When has government regulation been good? There is rent control in California (and not in Oregon where I live now). Last year my rent raised by 30%. Vacation rentals are leaving renters homeless and without any compensation. I would be happy for some regulation right now.
Dave JB's picture

Sound & Vision, I appreciate your product reviews and commentary after your team has viewed, listened and fully evaluated these items. Providing a review and opinion on a governmental or political ruling prior to having the opportunity to read the ruling was not a good idea. The ruling has since been made public on March 12, 2015. Please read and let's debate.