The legal battles will continue for quite some time as the latest verdict has come down from the Federal Communications Commission regarding net neutrality. A 2-1 decision proved to be a stepping stone for policing internet service providers and how they manage their Internet speeds. This seems to be a very confusing issue that looks to have no end. It's a little bizarre that government officials need to determine something like the Internet is a public utility rather than a luxury. However, it's not completely ridiculous.
What's the difference between a luxury and a public utility? A public utility is defined as a private business/organization, subject to governmental regulation, that provides an essential commodity or service, such as water, electricity, transportation, or communication, to the public.
I get that many businesses and communications are executed through the Internet and Wi-Fi signals throughout the entire world. The way of communicating through snail mail and landline telephones are a thing of the past. Should we be "entitled" to some amounts of water, electricity, transportation, and communication as American citizens? Sure, but to an extent.
Those who work to the bone with two, three, sometimes four or five jobs to make ends meet for ourselves and our families, deserve a little help along the way. We are a compassionate people, but where do you draw the line in determining products as public utilities? That's the ultimate question whenever it comes to governmental regulation.
Let's look at a few perspectives that could be in favor of this ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. Is it a huge win for those who want to start up their own businesses and compete against huge conglomerates like Google, Bing and Yahoo! without having their providers, such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T, slowing down their dreams for said competition? Absolutely.
Is is a win for citizens such as myself who look forward to streaming music, books and movies from websites such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, without having to worry about buffering issues (to an extent)? Sure thing! Also, to that same point, are we glad that, as customers to ISPs such as Time Warner, Cox, Charter, and Xfinity, we shouldn't have to worry about the likelihood of them abusing us by lowering our speeds while simultaneously charging us both arms and legs in the process? Yes, and I couldn't agree more with that sentiment.
Let's flip the switch a little bit. With businesses like Google and Netflix (notice how I so cleverly referred to them now as businesses?) in full support of net neutrality, does that mean that they'll possibly get some sort of tax break or government kickback, which ultimately comes from the taxpayer? You can't denounce the possibility of this happening, especially with how corrupt Washington D.C. has become over recent years.
The cable industry's biggest lobbying group was hoping for Congressional broadband legislation instead of the F.C.C.'s "public utility" ruling. Why? It's certainly a valid point, but why should federal, state and local government be involved with something that (one would think) a majority of Americans feel that the Internet and/or broadband signals should be considered a luxury rather than a utility? There's a lot of government overreach and "net neutrality" is just the latest installment in this epic series.
The cable industry is adamant and determined to appeal this decision and perhaps take it to the Supreme Court. Is it also a disconcerting that if the cable industry were to win via the SCOTUS, companies like Netflix (which has already admitted to throttling customers' Internet and wireless signals for a profit) and others could continue their monopolies on the American taxpayer.
Look at the healthcare system: if there were free-market health insurance and healthcare providers, one would imagine that there wouldn't be monopolies and throttling over us. Why can't ISPs and the cable industry take a step in the right direction and let the people decide what they want and pay for what they want, rather than letting businesses and government entities deciding what is right for them?