Consumers can expect to slowly pay more for online services, following the FCC’s decision Thursday to repeal Obama-era Net Neutrality provisions.
The policy shift means internet providers will be able to create slow and fast lanes for online content. UW-Madison telecommunications professor emeritus Barry Orton says that will likely mean price hikes to get online and for many of the services you are using. “Ultimately the consumers pay for that,” he says.
Critics of the decision say telecom providers will be able to charge companies more money to speed up access to their sites, which will give existing large companies an advantage and make it harder for competitors to sites such as Google and Facebook to enter the marketplace. Orton says it also means providers can set up more of a tier system for consumers, forcing them to pay more to access the content they want. “They can raise their prices or set up their pricing structure any way they want – they can charge you more for less, more for slower, or more for a better service that’s faster,” he says.
Thursday’s vote is already facing potential legal challenges, amid reports that public comments on the policy change were made under false identities – with some comments made using the names of people who are dead. Orton says the FCC is supposed to consider public feedback, and doubts about whether comments in support of the change are legitimate should have given them pause. “The premises on which this decision was made are questionable at best, and fictional in many cases,” he argues.
Several states have already indicated they will file lawsuits, although Wisconsin is not among them. Asked Thursday afternoon about whether he believes there’s a possibility the state could get involved, Attorney General Brad Schimel declined to comment, saying he hasn’t had a chance to get “completely up to speed” on the decision or concerns that have been raised. “I’m just not familiar with that,” he said in an interview with WRN.