Major companies respond to the end of FCC comments period
After the Federal Communications Commission closed their website to comments to proponents and opposition of net neutrality, many companies and organizations have felt the need to respond to the insurgence of citizen interest. While the Senate discussion with the FCC won't take place until September following their traditional August recess, there is bound to be plenty of tension and discussion taking place before legislation is decided upon.
AT&T releases a 99-page response to FCC Response
In true fashion, major Internet Service Provider AT&T released a 99-page statement outlining their proposed changing if net neutrality is overturned. According to a report from the Washington Post, one passage in particular has caused contention amongst net neutrality supporters, which seems to describe the slowing of websites and applications that don't buy in to the Internet's new "fast lane."
"For example, an AT&T customer might choose to prioritize latency- and jitter-sensitive VoIP packets or video conference packets over ordinary web browsing packets, and AT&T would honor those designations over that customer's "last mile" Internet facilities," the source stated. "There is no conceivable reason that such services, demanded and used widely by business customers today, should be foreclosed by regulatory fiat."
That is to say that AT&T would be able to deliberately slow the services of another service to favor one that they personally advocated – more often than not, their own applications and those they were receiving a premium fee from. Technically, the major Internet Service Provider could still do this even if net neutrality is preserved as long as this was clearly stated in their terms and conditions, raising concerns for either outcome of legislation.
NAACP implies their support of reduced regulation
In the meantime, major influential organizations have been releasing their personal take on the net neutrality debate, whether for some increased publicity or for the sake of influencing their followers. The NAACP, or the major company that has advocated for the rights of people of color for decades, endorsed a plan that would effectively end net neutrality in favor of the ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.
Though their statements weren't blunt, they did confuse many a supporter. Huffington Post contributor Matt Sledge reported on the advocacy group's statement.
"The NAACP and CWA (Communications Workers of America) did not take an outright position on reclassification, but they did argue that paid prioritization won't lead to those fast and slow lanes," the source explained. "More money flowing to the big broadband companies for investing in capital improvements, they claimed, will lead to better service for all."
The companies implied in their joint comment that while they felt the supporters of net neutrality felt that they were acting in the public's best interest, this could eventually be a damaging to the development of the broadband community. They argued that if the goal of major Internet Service Providers like AT&T are to raise Internet access speeds, then the "slow lane" will not be so different from average speeds at present. Though a "fast lane" would exist, this wouldn't mean that other pages would crawl.
While these statements do have merits, most critics of overturning net neutrality remain unconvinced. It may be true that increased service speeds would not damage the loading times of smaller websites and startups that cannot afford the premium "fast lane" fee, but the fact that there is a differentiation between services still supports the point of those who support increased regulation.
If one page receives faster service than another, this page's loading time becomes "the new normal," against which all other page speeds are measured. How are smaller sites supposed to compete?