The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to relax the government's rules concerning "net neutrality". The vote was 3-2, with three Republicans voting to repeal the rules and two Democrats voting to keep them in place. The repeal won't take effect immediately. That should happen sometime next year.
And what it means is that Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon will no longer be prevented from speeding up or slowing down Internet traffic from specific Websites or applications. They'll also be allowed to prioritize their own content. But if they do any of this, they'll have to show publicly that they did and then the government will decide whether it's fair or not.
Perspective on whether this is a good or bad thing depends on whom you talk to.
JON SARLIN, CNNMONEY PRODUCER: If the Internet is a highway, vehicles or content providers can't pay more to use a special fast lane. Think of it this way: all content is created equal in the eyes of the Internet provider. That's the basic tenet behind net neutrality. So, if the Internet is neutral, then the Internet providers are treated basically like public utilities. Comcast or AT&T, they couldn't slow down or speed up certain content. But if net neutrality ends, some companies are going to be stuck in that slow lane.
The rules that made the Net neutral were put in place during the Obama administration.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: This set of principles, the idea of net neutrality, has unleashed the power of the Internet and given innovators the chance to thrive.
SARLIN: But now, things are going in a different direction. Ajit Pai is now the chairman of the FCC. He's a former lawyer for Verizon.
AJIT PAI, FCC CHAIRMAN: Entrepreneurs are constantly developing new technologies and services, but too often, they're unable to bring them to market for consumers because outdate rules or regulatory inertia stand in the way.
SARLIN: To him, repealing net neutrality will lead to innovation, that will get the government out of micromanaging the Internet. The Internet providers will have more money, they'll then invest more in infrastructure and we'll have faster streaming.
But while deregulation certainly has earned the praise of the telecommunications industry, on the other side of the coin, you have tech companies and consumer advocacy groups. The open question now, will repeal of net neutrality leads to innovation or to a traffic jam?