New Net Neutrality Rules Regulate Mobile Internet

The year-long discussion of net neutrality that has just passed drew amazing interest from carriers, large and small publishers, advertisers, and– surprisingly– ordinary internet users.

Congress could not have imagined when it enacted the APA almost seventy years ago that the day would come when nearly 4 million Americans would exercise their right to comment on a proposed rulemaking. But that is what has happened in this proceeding and it is a good thing

Framed in many different ways by people looking at the issue from various perspectives, the issue has never been truly understood in all its subtleties.

Thus victory was proclaimed when the FCC voted to get involved and treat the internet as a public utility, guaranteeing that pay-to-pay for faster broadband was not going to be a common business practice. Almost everybody thought the good guys had won.

today we adopt carefully-tailored rules that would prevent specific practices we know are harmful to Internet openness— blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization—as well as a strong standard of conduct designed to prevent the deployment of new practices that would harm Internet openness

At least until yesterday, when the FCC actually released a 400-page document telling what the rules really governed. And lo, those who read it there was one big surprise: the regulation of the mobile internet  for the first time.

Indeed, mobile broadband is becoming an increasingly important pathway to the Internet independent of any fixed broadband connections consumers may have, given that mobile broadband is not a full substitute for fixed broadband connections. 8 And consumers must be protected, for example from mobile commercial practices masquerading as “reasonable network management.”

Here is a list of the three big regulations you will need to know about.

No blocking: Broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.

No throttling: Broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.

No paid prioritization: Broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

How the carriers approach the mobile internet in a newly-regulated environment will also affect advertising revenues down the line, because the more access consumers have to affordable mobile data plans, the more time they will spend with online publishers. There will be lawsuits — many of them — and these regulations are likely to be tested in the Supreme Court.