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article imageNet neutrality wins in major FCC vote

By Michael Thomas     Feb 26, 2015 in Internet
The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to enforce strong protection of net neutrality, reclassifying broadband Internet as a utility.
The FCC's 3-2 vote means that broadband Internet is now a utility under Title II of the Communications Act.
Plain and simple, it means broadband companies cannot charge certain sites or networks to run at a faster speed, nor can they block access to legal content. That means no "fast lanes" and "slow lanes," as big carriers were fighting for.
Unlike previous laws, this new reclassification will apply to both wireline and mobile Internet.
While the vote's outcome was largely expected, it's nonetheless a huge sigh of relief for Internet advocates. Internet giants like Twitter and Netflix and even the father of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee — among many others — all spoke out in support of legislation enforcing net neutrality.
The road to this outcome was far from clear a year ago. The issue truly reached mainstream attention thanks to John Oliver, who tackled net neutrality on his show Last Week Tonight, leading to a flood of comments to the FCC that would temporarily break its comment system.
While more and more people spoke out against the potential end of an equal Internet, Republicans continued to fight legislation enforcing net neutrality. They said such laws would be evidence of government overreach and could mean taxpayers paying an additional $11 billion–$15 billion a year.
The issue reached a turning point in early February this year when FCC chair Tom Wheeler changed his mind on the issue and outlined a plan to reclassify Internet.
During the vote Thursday, Wheeler refuted the idea of a government takeover, saying net neutrality "is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate speech."
The debate on net neutrality is far from over, however. Internet service providers could sue the government over the issue, and it may face more governmental opposition from Republicans.
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