Washington - Sep 9, 2013 - The net neutrality fight continues tomorrow as Verizon Communications, one of the largest providers of Internet access in the U.S., takes on the FCC in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. Verizon, along with other companies that spent billions of dollars to build their Internet infrastructures, believes it should be able to manage them as it wishes, according to the New York Times. The companies should be able, for example, to "charge fees to content providers who are willing to pay to have their data transported to customers through an express lane."
The FCC takes the position that ISPs must treat all providers of content equally with regard to their access to the end users. According to this same article, the FCC's position is that "if certain players are able to buy greater access to Internet users...the playing field will tilt in the direction of the richest companies, possibly preventing the next Google or Facebook from getting off the ground."
If the Verizons of the World get their way, how long do you suppose it will be before the most successful content providers find themselves above the radar and faced with new fees just to gain access to their users? And how long, I ask, will it be before Pandora (for example) finds itself with a large disadvantage vis-à-vis Apple's iTunes Radio? I'm not against the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world expecting to re-coup their investments; it's just that I believe this does not bode well for content providers that rely solely upon the internet to reach their end users.
We, as broadcasters, need to do everything we can to take care of our special, unfettered means of reaching our audiences -- namely, via over-the-air radio and TV transmission. We should not allow our access to end users to become completely dependent upon third parties -- such as ISPs.
The DC circuit court of appeals is set to hear oral arguments starting Monday morning in Verizon v. FCC, which (according to the Times) is billed as a "heavyweight championship of the technology world, setting the old era against the new."