The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled January 14 that key elements of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) 2010 Open Internet Order are invalid. The Order, otherwise known as Network Neutrality rules, prohibited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T from discriminating in network service delivered to content providers.
By tossing out the rules, ISPs are now free to charge content companies higher fees to deliver Internet traffic faster or otherwise more efficiently.
It remains to be seen what the response to this decision will be. The FCC may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court meaning that further litigation will delay the effects of the ruling. It is also possible that the FCC could reclassify broadband service as a common carrier thereby bringing ISPs within their regulatory authority.
Net Neutrality is the concept that everyone should have equal access to the web. For example large web publishers like eBay or Amazon should not have the ability to pay their Internet Service Provider (ISP) so that their sites load faster than a smaller retailer with fewer financial resources. These rules give the FCC the authority to step in and mediate disputes about how ISPs are managing their networks.
NAR supported net neutrality rules recognizing that the business of real estate is increasingly conducted on-line. Streaming video, virtual tours and voice-over-internet-protocol are just some of the technologies that are commonly used by REALTORs® today. In the future, new technologies will be adopted which will no doubt require unencumbered network access.