The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), led by Chairman Ajit Pai, is set to vote on whether it should dismantle net neutrality rules that were put in place under the Obama administration. As this has become a political issue, the FCC is assuredly going to proceed with Pai's plan to withdraw the rules, after having voted 2-1 back in May of this year to advance the process. A final vote is scheduled for December 14.
In case you are not aware, net neutrality rules were put in place to ensure that all Internet traffic is treated equally and fairly. Through government regulation, wireless carriers and Internet service providers (ISPs) are prohibited from throttling or blocking online content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. They also cannot charge a fee to prioritize certain traffic, creating a so-called fast lane on the Internet, with tolls.
The rules exist to ensure healthy competition, and to prevent consumers from being screwed over by corporate squabbles. For example, without the rules in place, an ISP could decide to degrade Netflix traffic in favor of its own streaming video service. As a result, Netflix (to use that example) would be forced to pay the ISP to de-throttle its traffic, and in turn those added costs would very likely be passed onto consumers.
That is just one potential scenario. Under the previous administration, the FCC, then led by former Chairman Tom Wheeler, reclassified broadband service as a utility using a decades old communications act from 1934. This gave the FCC authority to govern Internet service, enabling the government agency to put into place the net neutrality rules that are currently in effect.
There has been plenty of opposition, primarily from Republicans, with Pai haven spoken out net against neutrality rules numerous times in the past. He sides with the claims of wireless carriers and ISPs, which have said that this kind of government regulation ultimately limits investments into upgrading networks, and hurts jobs.
Pai has said that he favors an open Internet, but has not committed to retaining any existing rules. We will find out for sure what exactly he has planned next month.