Business as usual
The FCC is in the process of making decisions that could drastically harm the Internet as we know it. Until very recently, the FCC had rules in place which dictated an open, neutral Internet. This meant that all (legal) web traffic had to be treated equally, without blocking or favoritism. From a private blog to a public search engine or corporate website, all traffic enjoyed equal priority and access. This situation has changed.
Previous “Open Internet” or “Net Neutrality” rules were vacated earlier this year, the outcome of a lawsuit brought, and won by, Verizon. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against the FCC because the language used characterized Internet Service Providers as content providers, over whom the FCC has limited authority. The ruling court, seeing the necessity of maintaining the Internet as it is, even spelled out how the FCC could easily rectify the situation. If the FCC designated the ISP's as common carriers, basically pipelines for data, it could regulate them under its Title II authority.
The biggest opportunity this ruling presents for ISP’s is a new source of income as they seek to control access to content and institute charges for entities who wish to put their content in the forefront. Verizon, for example, looks “forward to working with the FCC and Congress...without the need for unnecessary new regulations that seek to manage the explosive dynamism of the Internet.” (Quote from Verizon’s policy blog). In this instance, dynamism=profit.
No one will benefit from a tiered Internet, except those seeking to make money through preferential treatments and "subscription" packages. That is unthinkable. The consumer pays his or her ISP to provide an Internet connection, nothing more. Carriers must be classified as service providers or utilities. Anything less threatens the existence of the Internet as we know it.
The Internet has become a very necessary part of everyday life, from email, social net-working, banking and shopping to videos, music, and movies. We have integrated the Net into our daily lives to the point that it is hard to imagine doing without it, just like electricity or running water. It's high time to recognize the fact that the Internet is indeed a utility, and must be treated as such.