Last week, on Thursday 2/26/2015, the FCC did what in February of 2014 seemed impossible. They declared the Internet protected under Title II of the Communications Act. This is absolutely huge and since Matt and I have been big supporters of the idea of Title II for quite a while now, I thought it was worth jotting down a few reflections on this. But first... here's some of the awesome John Oliver, laying it down on net neutrality...
What is Title II?
Title II establishes communication services as “common carrier”, which means that the provider is responsible for transporting all traffic of that communication without discrimination or interference and for all users of the service.
In the 1990s, when the Internet first started becoming huge, its biggest strength when going up against the proprietary networks of the time (AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe) was that it served everyone equally. There were tons of smaller Internet Service Providers, and eventually those proprietary networks connected themselves to the Internet as well. The “vast open playground” of the Internet won out over those proprietary networks. In a sense, that kind of Internet was set up along a common carrier model. Your ISP didn’t care whether you used Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer or the original Mosaic browser, and it didn't care what sites or services you visited online. Hell, my first Internet browsing was done via a terminal session into a Linux host on an Apple IIGS client machine using Lynx (all text, no graphics or multimedia).
Back then, when people talked about the Internet, it was understood as a level playing field. But starting in the 2000s, with an overly friendly to telecom/cable FCC, that started to change. As people switched to cable modems and DSL, the Internet was no longer an equitable network (where your client had just as much bandwidth as the other systems on the network). It became asynchronous… your download speed was greater than your upload speed. And because of that, we started to see a shift.