How the FCC Impacts Internet Providers

 In Tech Industry News

On April 6th, a federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not have authority to regulate how Internet service providers manage their network.

At issue is Comcast’s right to slow customer’s access to the bandwidth intensive, file-sharing service BitTorrent. While they can now limit traffic that overloads the network, Comcast was careful to say that it changed its management policies. Further, they made it clear they have no intention of preventing customer access.

These comments may ease the minds of some.  Specifically, those who recognize that FCC now has authority to mandate “net neutrality.”  On the other hand, net neutrality advocates worry this decision gives providers new power.  That it gets them free reign to control what a user can and cannot access on the network.

This is point you hear from the media.  So, this case really empowers the watchdogs.  Now, some will be on constant look out for unfair and biased treatment of traffic by Internet service providers.

A single instance of preferential treatment – of one type of content over another – may lead a loss of customer trust.  It could also be reason enough for Congress to explicitly grant FCC authority to regulate.

As such, it is more important than ever for Internet service providers to be transparent.  It’s key to customer loyalty.  They need to make sure customers know how they plan to manage their networks.  And they need to make customers aware of what to expect as far as network performance.

Given the national focus on increasing American access to high-speed Internet networks, anything seen as contrary –  regardless of whether it is real or not, could negatively impact ISP brands.

This is probably why Comcast’s statement around the verdict was subdued and focused on the future: “Comcast remains committed to the F.C.C.’s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this F.C.C. as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.”

Providers who want to calm customer fears around motives need to publicly reaffirm commitments to providing high-speed access and high-quality services.

In addition, ISPs need to have authentic dialogue with customers.  Using cable TV, web and social media, they need to explain challenges of managing today’s networks.  High-bandwidth applications impact performance, require additional infrastructure and require active management.

ISPs need to make sure customers know they operate networks to insure the highest quality performance.  This is for every customer.   Also, they should tell customers exactly what they do or will do to meet network management challenges.

This way, customers can trust ISPs – to trust they get equal opportunity service.  This is the only way providers can prosper without inviting regulation.

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