The Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules that allow Internet service providers to offer a faster lane through which to send video and other content to consumers, as long as a content company is willing to pay for it, according to people briefed on the proposals.
The proposed rules are a complete turnaround for the F.C.C. on the subject of so-called net neutrality, the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose, and that no content providers should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers.
The F.C.C.'s previous rules governing net neutrality were thrown out by a federal appeals court this year. The court said those rules had essentially treated Internet service providers as public utilities, which violated a previous F.C.C. ruling that Internet links were not to be governed by the same strict regulation as telephone or electric service.
The new rules, according to the people briefed on them, will allow a company like Comcast or Verizon to negotiate separately with each content company – like Netflix, Amazon, Disney or Google – and charge different companies different amounts for priority service.
So content providers, you want access to these "fast lanes"? Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and your favorite online game are going to have to come up with bigger and bigger bucks, and that means you'll have to pay a lot more for internet access to these sites.
Oh, but it gets worse: there's now nothing from stopping Comcast from telling their customers "If you want access to these fast lanes, you'll have to buy access from us too." Like movies and TV online? That'll cost you an extra $20 a month on your internet bill. Like Youtube? There's another $5 bucks. Like playing online games? Prepare to fork over another $10 a month. Like Twitter or Facebook? Cough up another $10. You don't have to of course...but your internet is going to be awfully slow otherwise, and that would be a shame.
Oh, and you'll have to pay your phone company all those same fees if you expect to access anything on your smartphone, too. Prepare to have your cell phone bill skyrocket as well.
The most overpriced country for net access just got several times worse. The internet giants are going to make hundreds of billions more money for the same access you have now. You think they're going to give you faster internet?
The days of unlimited internet access for one monthly rate are numbered as well. Prepare to start being charged by the gigabyte at home just like you are by the phone companies now.
Horror stories of people being charged thousands of bucks for a month of net access? It's coming. In the end the corporations always win.