The FCC's net neutrality ends today. Changes may not be drastic, at least at first, but since they will likely be slow, consumers won't realize the effect until it's too late, says Johannes Bauer, chair of MSU's Quello Center and professor in the Department of Media and Information.
“Under the framework taking effect today, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are free to differentiate services as long as they are transparent about it," Bauer says. "I do not expect any immediate and drastic changes, such as the blocking of websites or the throttling of legitimate traffic. Some of the newly gained freedom is desirable, as it will allow experimentation with new business models. It may gradually result in more price and quality differentiation, such as lower prices in exchange for slower access speeds and higher, guaranteed service quality for specific services such as high quality videoconferencing or interactive gaming. This is already happening in ways that are not fully transparent to consumers. What is new is that the local access provider now also has more freedom to experiment. In the past, providing higher capacity access was cheaper than differentiation of services which requires additional network management efforts and costs. One concern is that the present framework does not put any safeguards into place that would prevent unreasonable discrimination. Appeals to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will likely be slow and the ability of the agency to resolve disputes has not been tested in network neutrality matters. Another concerns is that many of these changes will happen gradually and not be noticed by consumers and other observers until some major unexpected and undesirable effect is visible.”
Johannes M. Bauer Quello Chair in Media and Information Policy and Director, James H. and Mary B. Quello Center
Expert in the digital economy, including digital innovation, information and media policy, Internet governance including net neutrality