U.S. Senator Al Franken is challenging the Federal Communications Commission over internet neutrality. Last week, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler gave a proposal that would prevent broadband providers from blocking or slowing down individual websites. The plan would also allow internet providers to strike deals with content companies, such as Netflix. Opponents say such deals create a "fast lane" for big companies with deep pockets to buy faster internet speeds.
What does this all mean? Let us try to break it down. We currently live in a land where all websites are created equal with the same access to the world wide web. This open internet involves a little thing called "net neutrality."
"That means no information travels faster than other information," Sen. Al Franken, (DFL) Minnesota, said.
A federal appeals court decision in January essentially assigned the FCC to write new Open Internet rules. Wheeler's proposal would let Internet service providers charge companies varying rates for faster connection speeds. Franken said this is unfair to smaller companies that may not be able to afford to pay the extra cost.
"People will just go to what they can see without delays. It will hurt innovation and it will hurt choices," Franken said.
Franken worries that this rule may prevent small business/websites from expanding, thus we may not get to see the next YouTube. Omnitech-Inc. President and CEO, Joe Krizan, said the burden eventually trickles down to you and your wallet.
"The writing's on the wall. When there are inequalities imposed on businesses, based on increased costs, businesses have to recoup those somehow. Ultimately, it's the consumer of those services who pay for that," Krizan said.
Nothing is set in stone at this point, but Krizan is among those carefully watching what happens in Washington.
"If members of Congress take this on as an initiative, we could see something change. As of right now, it sounds like this could be the new way of doing things," Krizan said.
Wheeler is hitting back at claims that his plan will eventually cost consumers more. In a statement, he said, "The proposed rule is built to ensure that everyone has access to an Internet that is sufficiently robust to enable consumers to access the content, services and applications they demand, as well as an Internet that offers innovators and edge providers the ability to offer new products and services."