May 15, 2014, may soon be known as the day the Internet changed.
The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday in favor of a plan of net neutrality, allowing an open Internet that allows websites and content providers a chance to pay for faster Web speed, The New York Times reported.
“While the plan is meant to prevent data from being knowingly slowed by Internet providers, it would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed fast lane of service,” The Times reported. “Some opponents of the plan argue that allowing some content to be sent along a fast lane would essentially discriminate against content not sent along that lane.”
But this isn’t the final verdict on net neutrality. It’s actually just an approval of the plans, and a final decision would come much later, The Times reported.
“We are dedicated to protecting and preserving an open Internet,” said chairman Tom Wheeler, who voted on the panel, to The Times. “What we’re dealing with today is a proposal, not a final rule. We are asking for specific comment on different approaches to accomplish the same goal — an open Internet.”
The FCC is being transparent about the move, though. A fact sheet about what the decision means was released on Thursday. Vox also published what you need to know about today’s decision and what it could mean moving forward.
But how will this change the Internet?
Deseret News National reported in January that allowing net neutrality, where Internet Service Providers could charge more for faster speed, could impact not only your Internet, but cellphones, too.
But some have already been feeling slower Internet, despite this decision or any other outcomes. Slate’s David Auerbach wrote Wednesday that the Web has seen a drop in speed for a lot of users.
“Level 3 Vice President Mark Taylor provided evidence that five U.S. ISPs (and one European ISP) are refusing to upgrade their infrastructure despite their connection ports being saturated,” Auerbach wrote. “In other words, these ISPs are intentionally letting their service degrade because they’re cheap, like a city not fixing potholes in its roads.”
So what can the public do? They can speak out.
“There will be 60 days for public comment and another 57 for replying to the comments before the FCC takes final action,” USA Today reported.
Some have already begun speaking out. April Glaser and Coryne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said it’s important to fight to protect net neutrality and not allow the loss of the Internet.
“Personalize it. Tell a story,” they wrote. “Let’s make sure the FCC hears us loud and clear: It’s our Internet, and we’re going to fight to protect it.”