Net neutrality is a hot subject in the US and the repercussions of the debate will affect the web worldwide for many years to come. The battle has been heating up lately with both sides amping up their demands ahead of the unveiling of FCC's proposed net-neutrality rules on Thursday. After pressure from the groups opposing net neutrality a large group of mostly tech companies are submitting their own thoughts on net neutrality today.
“We believe a process that results in common sense baseline rules is critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a key engine of economic growth, innovation and global competitiveness,” the letter addressed to the FCC reads, according
to the Wall Street Journal. The letter is signed by 24 CEOs and other heavyweights at large web companies like Google and Amazon but also at Facebook or Twitter.
“An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail. This allows businesses of all sizes, from the smallest start-up to larger corporations, to compete, yielding maximum economic growth and opportunity,” the letter adds.
Net neutrality has been debated for years but up to now not much has been done and ISPs can pretty much do what they want with their services, within the boundaries of the law, of course. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stirred things up last month when it announced it would introduce a new set of net neutrality rules that would be enforceable and also apply to wireless operators, a decidedly thorny issue but one that is very important as mobile Internet use is growing at an accelerated rate.
The proposed rules will force providers to treat all of the traffic they handle equally without favoring or discriminating any type of service or company. This provision has been backed by most web companies for years but ISPs are claiming that it's simply impossible for them to do this in a way that makes economic sense. They believe they should be allowed to use their infrastructure as they see fit and to offer their customers premium services, better access to certain services, video services for example, in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. This argument is a little thin though as most locations have a choice between maybe two or three providers offering broadband services and in many cases just one real alternative, not exactly the most competitive environment.
Advocates of both sides will have plenty of time to argue their positions as the FCC will just reveal the details of its proposed set rules this week after which a lengthy public debate will follow. Still, the sides want to start early and the net neutrality supporters made their case again also adding some new members to the group. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos as well as Google’s Eric Schmidt are both on board and the companies they represent have been long time supporters of net neutrality but they are now joined by newcomers like Facebook's cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and also Twitter's cofounder and CEO Evan Williams. The fight will intensify in the coming months but its results won't affect the consumers for some time to come.