FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 file photo, Demonstrators rally in support of net neutrality outside a Verizon store in New York. Consumers aren’t likely to see immediate changes following Monday, June 11, 2018 formal repeal of Obama-era internet rules that had ensured equal treatment for all. Rather, any changes are likely to happen slowly, and companies will try to make sure that consumers are on board with the moves, experts say. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
tech

Your internet use could change as 'net neutrality' ends

12 Comments
By MAE ANDERSON

Your ability to watch and use your favorite apps and services could start to change — though not right away — following the official demise Monday of Obama-era internet protections.

Any changes are likely to happen slowly, as companies assess how much consumers will tolerate.

The repeal of "net neutrality" took effect six months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to undo the rules, which had barred broadband and cellphone companies from favoring their own services and discriminating against rivals such as Netflix.

Internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast had to treat all traffic equally. They couldn't slow down or block websites and apps of their choosing. Nor could they charge Netflix and other video services extra to reach viewers more smoothly. The rules also barred a broadband provider from, say, slowing down Amazon's shopping site to extract business concessions.

Now, all that is legal as long as companies post their policies online.

The change comes as broadband and cellphone providers expand their efforts to deliver video and other content to consumers.

With net neutrality rules gone, AT&T and Verizon can give priority to their own movies and TV shows, while hurting rivals such as Amazon, YouTube and startups yet to be born.

The battle isn't entirely over, though. Some states are moving to restore net neutrality, and lawsuits are pending. Also, the Senate voted to save net neutrality, though that effort isn't likely to become law.

For now, broadband providers insist they won't do anything that would harm the "internet experience" for consumers. Most currently have service terms that specify they won't give preferential treatment to certain websites and services, including their own.

However, companies are likely to drop these self-imposed restrictions; they will just wait until people aren't paying a lot of attention, said Marc Martin, a former FCC staffer who is now chairman of communications practice at the law firm Perkins Coie. Any changes now, while the spotlight is on net neutrality, could lead to a public relations backlash.

Companies are likely to start testing the boundaries over the next six months to a year. Expect to see more offers like AT&T's exemption of its DirecTV Now streaming TV service from customers' mobile data limits. Rival services like Sling TV and Netflix count video against data caps, essentially making them more expensive to watch.

Although the FCC issued a report in January 2017 saying such arrangements, known as "zero rating," are probably anti-consumer, the agency did not require companies to change their practices right away. After President Donald Trump appointed a new chairman to the FCC, the agency reversed its stance on zero rating and proceeded to kill net neutrality.

Critics of net neutrality, including the Trump administration, say such rules impeded companies' ability to adapt to a quickly evolving internet.

But consumer advocates say that the repeal is just pandering to big business and that cable and phone giants will now be free to block access to services they don't like. They can also set up "fast lanes" for preferred services — in turn, relegating everyone else to "slow lanes." Tech companies such as Netflix, Spotify and Snap echoed similar concerns in regulatory filings.

Martin said broadband providers probably won't mess with existing services like Netflix, as that could alienate consumers.

But they could start charging extra for services not yet offered. For instance, they might charge more to view high-resolution "4K" video, while offering lower-quality video for free. The fees would be paid by the video services, such as Hulu, and could be passed along to consumers in higher subscription rates.

More than 20 states sued the government to stop the repeal, as did the public-interest group Free Press and the think tank Open Technology Institute and Firefox browser maker Mozilla.

Washington and Oregon now have their own net neutrality laws, and a bill is pending in California's legislature.

That's another reason companies are likely to move slowly, at least at first.

"They don't want to add fuel to the fire," Martin said.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


12 Comments
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Another corporate grab on the backs of the little guy. Vote every republican who supports killing net neutrality out of office this November. Better yet, just vote EVERY republican out of office.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Your ability to watch and use your favorite apps and services could start to change

Not mine and I guess not that of most readers here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is an American problem not a Japanese one.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Very used to American bias on most internet sites, but this is a new low... “Your internet use....” applies to people in the US. Or about 4.3% of the population of the planet....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Number of internet users. 2017, 3.5 billion.

American internet users 78.2% of pop. 290 million internet users as of 2016, the United States is one of largest online markets worldwide.

I would say more than 70% of websites I visit are probably on American servers including JT, BTW. Those servers and sites could slow down a bit?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Those servers and sites could slow down a bit?

They could. It's a definite possibility.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Its going to create a Routing nightmare, with tit-for-tat retaliatory responses between carriers responding to traffic slow down cross carrier. NetFlix can kiss their business model goodbye. Google may have better luck, as they were buying up lots of dark fibre a couple of years back. Amazon Cloud compute could be hit too. It's got the potential of being a very messy situation.

I guess we may as all well go back to fido-net...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan doesn't have Net Neutrality and it sucks in some aspects, especially if you use an MVNO sim. Sure, those speedtest sites will have impressive speeds and sites like Youtube and Yahoo and whatever will be fast, but try to go to a video site not popular with Japanese users and it's like being on 56k again!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is an American problem not a Japanese one.

For now. If companies start making a lot more money, expect to see providers in other countries start to pressure governments to allow the same.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BTW. Its not just an American issue - the internet is about Global connectivity, you cant just isolate the US internet and say well that's their problem, everything is interconnected, if for example, AT&T only allows it's own paying customers to use the majority of it's premium lines, then we will start seeing traffic being routed via other potentially slower connections, which will lead to more timeouts from DNS lookups (the address book of the internet) through to downloading Microsoft Windows Updates. Thankfully, a this law may not be all encompassing, as individual states will pass their own overriding laws.... but the door is now open to Companies segregating the internet now for their own profit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

mmwkdw

BTW. Its not just an American issue - the internet is about Global connectivity, you cant just isolate the US internet and say well that's their problem, everything is interconnected, 

well yes and no. Putin is building a Russian internet service which will be isolated and only available within Russia.

If I'm Japanese and only use Japanese sites then I don't care about America internet. FB, Yahoo, Google, Apple and many more have servers here.

We won't see the same happening here in Japan.

Even in America States are making their own laws.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you pay for e.g. a 50 Mbps internet service and the provider then deliberately throttles certain web sites, you are not getting the service you paid for. This can only lead to law suits.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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