FCC set to drop net neutrality bomb on online video market
Editor | 24-04-2014
US regulator the FCC is said to be on the verge of proposing changes in US net neutrality laws that will likely shake up totally the US online video and over the top arenas.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC is set to fall on the side of US ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Comcast who wish to be able to charge companies such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube premium fees for dedicated, quality-assured carriage of their video services.

The regulator was quoted by the WSJ as denying that it had 'gutted' the open internet rule which it had hitherto maintained and which the video service providers had called for to be strengthened. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler dismissed such reports as speculation which was "flat out wrong."

Indicating the ramifications of any such move, just over a month ago, and weeks after agreeing to pay a leading US ISP Comcast fees to ensure that its over the top (OTT) service was delivered without service interruption, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings demanded that strong net neutrality was enshrined in the US.

In an impassioned plea and attack on ISPs in the country Hastings condemned existing net neutrality regulation 'weak' and insufficient'. He said: "The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make. The traditional form of net neutrality which was recently overturned by a Verizon lawsuit is important, but insufficient. A stronger form of net neutrality is required.Strong net neutrality additionally prevents ISPs from charging a toll for interconnection to services like Netflix, YouTube, or Skype, or intermediaries such as Cogent, Akamai or Level 3, to deliver the services and data requested by ISP residential subscribers. Instead, they must provide sufficient access to their network without charge."

If the FCC proceeds as expected, it will put its proposals to its commissioners on 15 May and if they vote in favour there will be another step of public comment before any changes are officially ratified.