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Opinion

Net Neutrality Is Dead. The Internet Is Next.

By Nicholas Economides

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With the FCC’s vote, the Internet as we know it is over.

In 2005, AT&T’s CEO declared war on net neutrality. Net neutrality, a regime of minimal interference by Internet service providers (ISP), had prevailed since the commercialization of the Internet. AT&T proposed to create two lanes, a fast one for any content provider that would pay new fees to AT&T, and a slow one for everyone else. In the ensuing years AT&T and other ISPs have fought to institute this pay-to-play system. To prevent this, in 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formalized net neutrality into law, blocking ISPs from being able to receive payments for prioritizing content.

Yet Thursday, the FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, made a U-turn and abolished net neutrality. If legal challenges do not reverse the FCC decision, ISPs will be able to create a fast lane and sell “paid prioritization.” The word “prioritization” here is misleading. ISPs will not provide faster Internet access. The content of providers who pay fees to ISPs will be delivered at normal speed. But the content of those who do not pay will be delivered with delay.

In essence, the FCC has given ISPs the legal power to blackmail any content provider that does not pay them with the threat of a slowdown in service delivery. The FCC clearly has put the ISPs profits above the benefits of consumers and of the overwhelming majority of businesses.

Read the full article as published by Fortune

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Nicholas Economides is a Professor of Economics at NYU Stern School of Business.