Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality

downloadJust days after I blogged about how the WWE is going to be the first 24/7 live internet only Premium Channel, an appeals court has struck down the net neutrality rules. Once again, networking, IT and AV are all intertwined.

First of all, what are the net neutrality rules? If you have 10 minutes or so, you can read in great detail about it here. If you only have a few moments to understand a difficult topic, I will give it to you in a nutshell. The FCC, which regulates broadband (and this ruling affirmed that regulation) has set up rules that essentially restrict broadband providers from blocking services or sites that are not illegal. These rules started with other forms of communication, like the telephone. A telephone company could not, for example, restrict calls to other telephone companies to keep people from changing their service.

The appeals court has ruled that broadband is treated differently than these “common carriers” and therefore can not be subject to the same rules.

So, what does this mean for you, AV People? Well, have you ever installed any type of streaming appliance? Are any of your devices connected to services outside of your network, or your customers network? If so, then it means you need to start understanding how this ruling could change those services. You will also need to watch your local providers and see how their services and costs change and you will need to explain this to your customers.

Take my previous example of the WWE Network. I imagine that many cable companies are not very happy that WWE is essentially walking away from PPV (and taking the 40-60% cut cable companies get). I also bet they are not very happy that the premium channel is not being offered to cable providers. So, Time Warner, ComCast, Verizon, could all decide that on their infrastructure the WWE Network is simply not going to the get the bandwidth it needs to work properly; unless, you pay a premium fee for that service. I am sure they will pass this off as a “service” to their customers. You will hear claims like, “why should your neighbors get more bandwidth than you, when you pay the same cost.” They will announce that any new revenues will be put into infrastructure. In reality, they will be finding a way to cash in on a product that they were cut out of.

As an AV or IT integrator or installer, you will need to explain this to your customers. Otherwise, you will be getting the calls complaining about their streaming services not working properly.

What do you think? Is this fair? Will a higher court overturn this ruling? I look forward to hearing from you!