President-elect Donald Trump has appointed Mark Jamison and Jeff Eisenach to the transition team of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a critical team in defence of net neutrality laws.
That Mark Jamison and Jeff Eisenach did consultancy work for Sprint and Verizon, which are two companies that have been seeking to overturn the rules that sustain net neutrality, speaks volumes about what we should expect soon. It appears that sooner than later, we are set to witness a situation in which large cable television companies and other related conglomerates attempt to lobby the FCC to overturn critical rules that ensure net neutrality.
It is worth mentioning that the battle for net neutrality has been a long and bruising one. On the one hand, large companies such as Verizon and AT&T sought to undermine the concept of net neutrality by introducing a concept they called net prioritisation. These companies proposed that the Internet operates under a system in which ISPs can only prioritise the traffic of companies and other content providers who pay tolls.
The prioritisation proposal by these large companies was illogical for two reasons. In the first place, it would automatically tilt the balance in favour of the big telecom companies. By using a toll-based system, these companies would earn abnormal profits in the short term.
On the other hand, using the model that these companies proposed at the time would automatically kill many small internet-based businesses that did not have the financial muscle to compete with their well-established counterparts.
It was after long deliberations and a sustained public campaign that the FCC codified the rules that would later come to define the concept of net neutrality. The essence of the rules is that cable companies and telecoms cannot prioritise the traffic of any content provider based on whether or not the content provider pays them.
However, it appears that large telecoms and cable television companies are keen on taking advantage of the entry of the new administration to push for their interests. It should be noted that these companies that were campaigning for the abolition of net neutrality have a long-standing reputation of successfully lobbying the federal government into giving into their demands. Currently, it appears that these companies are slowly making progress, much to the detriment of millions of consumers, small businesses and the economy at large.
Given that net neutrality ensures fair competition among internet-based businesses, allows consumers to access content based on their desires and ensures that large telecoms do not make abnormal profits at the expense of millions of small businesses, it necessary to make sure that the FCC rules on Internet neutrality are not tampered with. This is necessary, given the background of the current appointees to the FCC and the role that the FCC plays in the issue of net neutrality.