FCC votes to repeal net neutrality, but the matter still must go through Congress before affecting any web surfing changes

What's going on right now, and how it may impact the FGC

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • December 14, 2017 at 2:10 p.m. PST

If you've been on internet at all today, there's a very good chance you've seen headlines and social media posts concerning the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality.

This is accurate, but the end of net neutrality is not at all a surefire thing yet (despite the tone of most of the statuses you've probably read). Today's decision will send the repeal through Congress, who will need to vote on the matter before any laws are changed.

Why are you reading about this on a fighting game news and culture website? The implications of nixing net neutrality could affect anyone and everyone using the World Wide Web, and sites such as Twitch and YouTube very well could see changes should this all come to pass.

Net neutrality is the basic principle that internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T must treat all data on the Web in an nondiscriminatory fashion, meaning they cannot charge different rates based on users, content, websites or other such nuances.

The major fear of those in favor of net neutrality is that too much power will be awarded to ISPs, as they'll be able to speed up or slow down specific websites or channels based on their own business needs.

Bringing this closer to home for those of us in the FGC, this could potentially mean that certain ISPs slow down or throttle websites like Twitch to encourage users to use other streaming platforms, or even go as far as to charge extra for access to sites like Twitch on top of an already established monthly fee for general service.

"Internet providers vigorously contest that prediction," writes Brian Fung of the Washington Post. "They argue there is no financial incentive to penalize specific apps or services, that giving some sites the option of faster service could in fact benefit consumers, and that the new rules allow the Federal Trade Commission to sue carriers that act anti-competitively."

The idea here would be that some sites and channels need extra bandwidth and resources to perform at a higher clip. YouTube and Twitch demand a lot more bandwidth than, say, a blog about carpentry. Offering more resources to these high demand areas could speed up the internet for many users.

Net neutrality was not put into place until 2015 by the Obama Administration, and before that time, there were no legal protections urging ISPs to remain neutral in the web surfing experiences they provided. That said, discussions on the topic have been going on since the early to mid 2000's.

To say the current generation is "plugged in" in reference to our reliance on the internet is probably an understatement, which is why the regulations here are being so vehemently examined.

We'll be looking forward to seeing how the net neutrality narrative plays out in the coming year, with our eyes specifically set now on Congress to see how they vote on this increasingly discussed issue.

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