Analysts have been saluting the US’s Federal Communications Commission reclassification of the broadband internet in the US to a ‘telecommunications service’.
The new legislations offers a powerful guarantee of internet neutrality, and follows a concentrated online lobbying campaign that drummed up huge public support and also included the likes of Netflix and YouTube as strong supporters.
“The ruling is an interesting demonstration of the power of the internet,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO, Point Topic. “Watching Tim Wheeler deliver his, fairly passionate, closing statement revealed the impact the online and write-in campaigns had on the process, which, coupled with Obama crediting sites like Reddit for their lobbying, makes it clear that the internet as a tool and as a necessary utility for us all has in effect saved itself.”
However, Johnson went on to stress that the ruling represents only the “start of the journey,” and like many he expects the ISPs and network owners to contest the reclassification.
Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that the FCC had long endeavoured to protect and promote the open Internet. “FCC Chairs and Commissioners, Republican and Democrat alike, have embraced the importance of the open Internet, and the need to protect and promote that openness,” he said, calling the day the culmination of the long effort, and the resulting legislation “the strongest possible” protection for an open Internet.
“We heard from startups and world-leading tech companies,” Wheeler went on. “We heard from ISPs, large and small. We heard from public-interest groups and public-policy think tanks. We heard from Members of Congress, and, yes, the President. Most important, we heard from nearly 4 million Americans who overwhelmingly spoke up in favour of preserving a free and open Internet. We listened. We learned. And we adjusted our approach based on the public record. In the process we saw a graphic example of why open and unfettered communications are essential to freedom of expression in the 21st century.”
Netflx were among those who welcomed the ruling. “Today’s order is a meaningful step towards ensuring ISPs cannot shift bad conduct upstream to where they interconnect with content providers like Netflix,” reads a blog post from the internet TV service. “Net neutrality rules are only as strong as their weakest link, and it’s incumbent on the FCC to ensure these interconnection points arent used to end-run the principles of an open Internet.”