Your internet use could change as ‘net neutrality’ ends today

In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 file photo, demonstrators rally in support of net neutrality outside a Verizon store in New York. Consumers aren’t likely to see immediate changes following the Monday, June 11, 2018, formal repeal of Obama-era internet rules that had ensured equal treatment for all. Rather, any changes are likely to happen slowly, and companies will try to make sure that consumers are on board with the moves, experts say. | Associated Press photo by Mary Altaffer, St. George News

NEW YORK (AP) — Your ability to watch and use your favorite apps and services could start to change — though not right away — following the official demise Monday of Obama-era internet protections.

Any changes are likely to happen slowly, as companies assess how much consumers will tolerate.

The repeal of “net neutrality” took effect six months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to undo the rules, which had barred broadband and cellphone companies from favoring their own services and discriminating against rivals such as Netflix.

Internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast previously had to treat all traffic equally. They couldn’t slow down or block websites and apps of their choosing. Nor could they charge Netflix and other video services extra to reach viewers more smoothly. The rules also barred a broadband provider from, say, slowing down Amazon’s shopping site to extract business concessions.

Now all that is legal as long as companies post their policies online.

The change comes as broadband and cellphone providers expand their efforts to deliver video and other content to consumers.

With net neutrality rules gone, AT&T and Verizon can give priority to their own movies and TV shows, while hurting rivals such as Amazon, YouTube and startups yet to be born.

The battle isn’t entirely over, though. Some states are moving to restore net neutrality, and lawsuits are pending. Also, the Senate voted to save net neutrality, though that effort isn’t likely to become law.

For now, broadband providers insist they won’t do anything that would harm the “internet experience” for consumers. Most currently have service terms that specify they won’t give preferential treatment to certain websites and services, including their own.

However, companies are likely to drop these self-imposed restrictions; they will just wait until people aren’t paying a lot of attention, said Marc Martin, a former FCC staffer who is now chairman of communications practice at the law firm Perkins Coie. Any changes now, while the spotlight is on net neutrality, could lead to a public relations backlash.

Companies are likely to start testing the boundaries over the next six months to a year. Expect to see more offers like AT&T’s exemption of its DirecTV Now streaming TV service from customers’ mobile data limits. Rival services like Sling TV and Netflix count video against data caps, essentially making them more expensive to watch.

Although the FCC issued a report in January 2017 saying such arrangements, known as “zero rating,” are probably anti-consumer, the agency did not require companies to change their practices right away. After President Donald Trump appointed a new chairman to the FCC, the agency reversed its stance on zero rating and proceeded to kill net neutrality.

The Trump administration and other critics of net neutrality say such rules impeded companies’ ability to adapt to a quickly evolving internet.

But consumer advocates say that the repeal is just pandering to big business and that cable and phone giants will now be free to block access to services they don’t like. They can also set up “fast lanes” for preferred services — in turn, relegating everyone else to “slow lanes.” Tech companies such as Netflix, Spotify and Snap echoed similar concerns in regulatory filings.

Martin said broadband providers probably won’t mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers.

But they could start charging extra for services not yet offered. For instance, they might charge more to view high-resolution “4K” video, while offering lower-quality video for free. The fees would be paid by the video services, such as Hulu, and could be passed along to consumers in higher subscription rates.

More than 20 states sued the government to stop the repeal, as did the public-interest group Free Press and the think tank Open Technology Institute and Firefox browser maker Mozilla.

Washington and Oregon now have their own net neutrality laws, and a bill is pending in California’s legislature.

That’s another reason companies are likely to move slowly, at least at first.

“They don’t want to add fuel to the fire,” Martin said.

Written by MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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14 Comments

  • Kilroywashere June 11, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Time for an Internet Bill of Rights. Long overdue. Cross functional societal group including diehard technoids needs to put this together. In 6 months you will see your movies and TV streams freezing up, especially big sports events. As the article states it will be a slow creep up. As of now my YouTube videos stream perfectly , but PSVUE stream glitches occasionally. So we shall see where it goes. NETFLIX who cares as they are now a Democratic propaganda machine. Good luck

    • Brian June 11, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Only if its kept very simple:

      1: Internet Service Providers cannot adjust the speed, latency, throughput or availability of packets based on their source or contents.

      2: The United States will not otherwise regulate, interfere with, censor, or manipulate the Internet, and will stand against any international efforts to do so.

      Yeah, that’s it.

    • PogoStik June 12, 2018 at 10:43 am

      Killroy, Fat chance I believe. First we’d have to overcome the big GREED factor responsible for the elimination of NN itself. I’m afraid a “bill of rights” for us little guys would need deep funding. The ISP and their lobbyists have already bought the Congressional influence they need to profitize the once government owned Internet. The Internet as we have known it, I’m sorry to say, is probably gone forever. Want Facebook? Pay your ISP $29/month for the social media package. The only way around it is for some organization to start a true non-commercial INTERNET-2.

  • Brian June 11, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    This is one of the most sound-bite and headline driven stories of our time, and also one of the least understood. What happened today just rolls back massive regulation put in place by the previous administration. The warnings of the Internet apocalypse are ridiculous since we’re going back to the exact same way it was before 2013 / 2014 when the previous administration regulated it.

    I believe in “net neutrality”, in that companies shouldn’t be able to charge more for or less for certain traffic. However, that doesn’t mean I want the US government regulating it either! The Internet should be free and open and shaped by the market. If you like the Internet as it exists today it’s because of all 3 of those things! Yes, the government used taxes to help fund the very early days, but the Internet as we know and love it has largely been shaped by market forces and the open and unregulated nature of the Internet. I am 100% for reversing the huge and complicated rules that were passed in 2013 / 2014. I do NOT want the US government regulating and controlling the Internet. They can’t even handle car registration without making a mess of it (been to a DMV lately?).

    What companies should be allowed to do is charge for bandwidth, both speed and throughput. At peak times over 1/3 of all Internet bandwidth is used by Netflix alone. But my Internet provider should charge ME for the bandwidth, not work out a deal with Netflix that makes it fast and other companies slow because they aren’t paying for it. That amounts to protection money and is akin to the mafia. THAT would ruin the Internet. But so will government regulation (whether its the US or the UN, which would be far, far, far worse).

    Everyone getting their news about this from late night comedians need to get informed and fight for ACTUAL net-neutrality, not for keeping the 2013 / 2014 rules, which just gives the US government control and was a huge step backwards in actual net-neutrality. It had a big shiny sticker on it that said “Net-Neutrality”, but was just the opposite.

    • comments June 11, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      So we should just TRUST ISPs to remain totally neutral and not even attempt to regulate them? They’re gonna do what will make them the most $$$, obviously. Maybe they will “self regulate”. hahahaha. who was it used to throw around that term, “self regulate”? Hilarious.

      • Brian June 11, 2018 at 2:57 pm

        The government could regulate that on a single page, preventing ISP’s from differentiating between bits and packets based on source or content. As stated I’m fine with that. In fact, I’m all for it (as is almost everyone I know).

        But the rules passed in 2013 / 2014 did that but also a ton of over-reach and control, almost all of which I think is bad for the future of the Internet and citizen freedoms. Almost literally the only thing I want the government involved with on the Internet is keeping a level playing field (actual net neutrality). Beyond that they should stay hands off. But most people cheering the 2013 / 2014 rules never looked past the label of “net neutrality”.

      • statusquo June 11, 2018 at 2:58 pm

        I guess it boils down to who do we trust, a free market or big government. History is sufficient to answer this question Mr. Comments

        • comments June 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm

          How does history answer that one? as far as i can tell they’re inseparable bedfellows. The “free markets” rule our gov’t thru $$$. So, really, what is the right answer there?

          • comments June 11, 2018 at 4:29 pm

            I know most right-wing loons like to throw around this “free market” nonsense, but the “free market banks” that brought the economy close to collapse in ’08 could’ve used some ‘big gubmunt regulations’. Most r-wing loons can’t even describe what a “free market” is or what the limits should be on these “free markets”.

    • stg-anon June 11, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      We’re not going back to the way things were in 2013

      The FCC lost a court case in 2014 that stripped them of the powers they’d been using to regulate the internet. The court specifically instructed them that if they wanted to regulate in that way, they needed to reclassify ISP’s under Title II

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality_in_the_United_States#Narrowing_of_the_FCC's_authority_(2014)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verizon_Communications_Inc._v._FCC_(2014)

      > On January 14, 2014, the DC Circuit Court determined in the case of Verizon Communications Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission that the FCC had no authority to enforce network neutrality rules as long as service providers were not identified as “common carriers”. The court agreed that FCC can regulate broadband and may craft more specific rules that stop short of identifying service providers as common carriers.

      This wasn’t some Obama overreach, it was the FCC trying to maintain the status quo

  • John June 11, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Another “the sky is falling” hit piece from the “All Progressive” AP.

    • No Filter June 11, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      It’s so funny to see no one replying to your stupid comments anymore. Must be lonely with no more friends. Bye Lumpy.

  • jaybird June 11, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Welcome to the world of Republican overreach and Trumpian fat cat economics you dumb … Trumpers helped Putin reign in. Now you can start paying. Why can you not learn.
    Ed. ellipsis

  • PogoStik June 12, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Elimination of net neutrality only applies to the U.S. and to those states who haven’t enacted their own state-level net neutrality laws. 29 states have already passed their own versions of NN. Was Utah one of them? Meanwhile most of
    the rest of the world maintains NN.

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