The fate of net neutrality is far from settled, and whatever happens could affect website management by altering the Internet landscape.
The Senate last week voted to reverse a Federal Communications order that would put an end to net neutrality, allowing Internet Service Providers such as cable companies to charge companies for more bandwidth, give preference to their own content over that of other companies, or even to block some websites. Those practices are prohibited under the principles of net neutrality. But the FCC under Trump appointee Ajit Pai wants to end net neutrality.
If net neutrality is ended, website management could become more complicated.
The Senate’s vote is a repudiation of the FCC position. Every Senate Democrat voted to preserve net neutrality. They were joined by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
According to Ars Technica:
Before the vote, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urged fellow senators to disregard the “armies of lobbyists marching the halls of Congress on behalf of big Internet service providers.”
Lobbyists tried to convince senators that net neutrality rules aren’t needed “because ISPs will self-regulate” and that blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization are just hypothetical harms, Markey said.
Lobby groups representing all the major cable companies, telecoms, and mobile carriers urged senators to reject the attempt to restore net neutrality rules.
The lobby groups complained that net neutrality rules don’t apply to “the practices of edge providers, such as search engines and social media platforms.” That’s no surprise, because the FCC regulates telecommunications networks and net neutrality rules apply specifically to broadband networks—websites and online services are regulated separately by the Federal Trade Commission.
Markey said that net neutrality rules are needed because of events like Comcast throttling BitTorrent traffic and AT&T blocking Skype and other voice applications that compete against its mobile phone service.
The preservation of net neutrality is still an uphill battle, since it is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House or be signed by President Donald Trump.