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Larry Magid: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

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LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)—A federal appeals court in Washington has struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, but what does it mean for the consumer?

What the FCC tried to do was to create a level playing field so that nobody could pay their way to a faster connection or a faster delivery. That doesn’t mean you can’t pay more for example to pay for the Internet connection at home.

What it does mean though, is say for instance that you’re a company like Facebook or Netflix and you want your traffic to get through to consumers faster than other people’s. The court ruling allows you to do that because there is no net neutrality.

So if someone is a startup and doesn’t have the extra money to spend, their data may come in slower than the bigger companies like Facebook or Netflix.

The net neutrality people would argue that startups and larger companies should be on a level-playing field, but then you have companies like Verizon, AT&T who will say that they’ve spent billions on infrastructure and should be able to charge companies like Netflix to re-coup on their investment. They argue higher fees for companies that want their data to go through faster.

But this is far from over and I’m sure it will go to the Supreme Court. This is a very important issue that affects the future and how we will pay for the Internet and who gets to have access to these high-speed connections.

I even received an email of concern from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) who represents the heart of Silicon Valley, about whether or not this ruling could in fact create a bifurcated internet; meaning a fast connection for big companies and a slower version for startups and others without the money to get the preferential treatment.

When it comes to the consumer it could mean a few things. On one hand it could mean faster connectivity for services we pay for like Netflix, but it could also hurt innovation on the Internet, making it more difficult for startups to get their footing. Ultimately that would be a problem for consumers.

(Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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