I think the decision took a lot of people by surprise, especially those working on behalf of the people (whoever they are). But in the end, the right thing happened.
Or is it the right thing?
And is it the end?
This week a federal court upheld the FCC’s controversial-to-say-the-least Net Neutrality rules. From the very beginning, I have been adamantly in favor of this policy; it’s one of the few times when the interests of the general public coincide with the interests of small business—especially ours.
Extreme controversy marked the debate over which the big wireless carriers and Internet providers would be allowed to establish tiered pricing structures that gave faster, more reliable Internet service to those who paid more. With the sort of New Speak that has become all too commonplace in our national debates these days, those in favor of such pricing argued that leveling the playing field would be harmful to the sort of innovation that created the Facebooks and Googles of the world in the first place.
Why anybody failed to see through that argument baffles me, but in the end, a US District Court did see through it and ruled in favor of you and me—and by “you and me,” I mean all of us as individuals and as small business people whose livelihood is increasingly dependent upon free and open access to the Internet by everybody.
This ruling affects us in two ways, both positive: first, we are free from the specter of having to pay more to use the Internet ourselves to deliver reliable, buffer-free audio (and, for that matter, video). Second, our audience won’t have to pay more to receive what we are delivering.
But none of us seriously expects the matter to end here. If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that virtually unlimited time and money is hard to beat. Affirming the FCC’s position that broadband Internet service is a public utility does change the game, however, and provides hope that this definition—and all that it entails—will prevail.
In the meantime, let’s celebrate our reaffirmed ability to serve our customers and listeners with the best possible service in what is becoming an increasingly important part of our business—and our customers’ and listeners’ reaffirmed ability to enjoy the service we provide.