USA regulators voted Thursday to roll back so-called "net neutrality" rules which required internet providers to treat all traffic equally, in the latest twist to an acrimonious debate over online freedom.
"The internet industry opposes Chairman Pai's repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order".
Angelo Zino, an analyst at CFRA Research, said he expects AT&T and Verizon to be the biggest beneficiaries because the two internet giants can now give priority to the movies, TV shows and other videos or music they provide to viewers.
Following detailed legal and economic analysis, as well as extensive examination of comments from consumers and stakeholders, the Commission reversed what it described as the FCC's 2015 "heavy-handed" utility-style regulation of broadband Internet access service, which imposed substantial costs on the entire Internet ecosystem.
"Let's remember why we have these rules in the first place", said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, the trade group.
On the other hand, if Net Neutrality does end up getting scrapped, consumers can start expecting scenarios that include throttling, internet fast lanes, and selective services.
Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argues consumers will see little change after the repeal
And repealing net neutrality does not make it legal for internet-service providers to censor content or discriminate against companies they do not like.
Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said the FCC with its vote "will put Internet service providers, not consumers, in charge of determining the future of the Internet".
The debate has been raging for over a decade with court and administrative challenges.
Although the FCC has repealed net neutrality, the decision will have to pass through Congress, and groups have already shared plans to sue the commission over the decision, which could take months to resolve. In short, the internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has. "To the contrary, the internet is perhaps the one thing in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success", he said on Thursday. The video uses Baauer's 2012 viral tune "Harlem Shake", only further proving how out of touch the FCC is with the rest of the United States of America (no shade to Baauer, of course).
"Today's action does not mark the "end of the Internet as we know it"; rather it heralds in a new era of light regulation that will benefit consumers", David L Cohen, Comcast's senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer, said in a statement.
Net neutrality activists have staged a series of protests in cities around the USA and online, amid fears that dominant broadband providers could change how the internet works. They will also persuade some internet services to pay to be included with the faster traffic.