US cable industry reels after Obama net neutrality call
| 11 November 2014
He may have pleased consumers but the US cable industry has taken a huge hit after US president Barack Obama called for the country's regulator the FCC to guarantee a free and open Internet.
Obama's statement began with the proposition that an open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to the American way of life. But he warned that it was something that the country could not take for granted and that the country could not allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.
He said: "I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe."
These steps fell under four categories: no blocking, no throttling, increased transparency and no paid prioritisation. That is to say ISPs should not be in a position to block consumer requests to access to a website or service if the content was legal and nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others.
Obama also asked the FCC to ensure that the last mile connection between consumers and ISPs was "not the only place some sites might get special treatment" and to make full use of the transparency authorities the US supreme court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
Most pointedly Obama demanded that no service should be stuck in a slow lane because it does not pay a fee, such as that paid by Netflix to ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon. He added: "That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet's growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritisation and any other restriction that has a similar effect."