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How the FCC May Have Broken the Internet Last Week and How You Can Save It

05/22/2014 01:05 pm ET | Updated Jul 22, 2014

The FCC rules just passed might seem like a bunch of technical mumbojumbo, but it could lead to serious implications for the Internet and for consumers. This article attempts to explain the rules the FCC passed in layman terms and what you can do to save the Internet as we know it and possibly even improve it.

Background

On May 15 2014, The FCC voted 3-2 in favor of passing what they consider laws protecting the "open Internet." Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, spearheaded these rules. Before Wheeler was Chairman of the FCC, he was one of the top lobbyists for the cable industry. I point this out because the new rules favor the cable companies and not the consumer. These new rules are highly likely to funnel an obscene amount of money to the cable companies.

What do the new rules mean?

The easiest way to describe the new rules is to compare the Internet to our highway system.

The highway system connects our cities together. Today, if you get on the highway you have the same rights as everyone to travel at the speed limit to and from any other city. If there is a traffic jam you are affected just like everyone else.

The misconception is the FCC is providing "faster lanes" for the wealthy companies who wish to pay for them. The truth is there are only so many lanes of highway (without laying new highway) and everything travels at the same speed (the speed of light).

The FCC rules just passed allow cable companies to reserve lanes on the highway for billionaires, forcing the rest of us to use the remaining lanes. Now, your highway goes from a 12-lane superhighway to six-lane highway. During rush hour you will be stuck barely moving while wealthy people will be humming along at 70mph to their destination.

The real problem is there is no limit to the number of lanes the cable company can reserve for the wealthy.

Results

The new rules won't affect large, wealthy companies very much. Companies like Netflix will pay the cable companies to use the reserved lanes. It will most likely increase your Netflix costs since Netflix is going to pay the cable companies to make sure their traffic doesn't get stuck in the slow lanes with the rest of us. Netflix will just push those costs down to the consumer. Then you will be paying for the wealthy peoples' reserved lanes on the highway.

There is one benefit to the new rules. Services like video require constant flow of traffic and no traffic jams to work properly. So instead of the cable companies needing to increase the lanes of the highway as more traffic jams occur, they can offer the video services the use of reserved lanes.

However, there is a way to provide reserved lanes and keep the highway moving for the rest of us.

How can you save the Internet?

Even after this recent vote, there is still hope. The FCC is asking for public input on how they should change the rules. The fix I propose is to allow the cable companies to create reserved lanes but limit the number of reserved lanes to 10 percent of the total available. This forces the cable companies to create more lanes for everyone once they run out of reserved lanes for the wealthy.

In essence, this forces the cable companies to do what they say they want to do, reinvest money made from the fast lanes to making the highway better for all of us.

Take Action

If you agree, send an email to openinternet@fcc.gov stating -- "I don't support the new rules unless you cap the amount of bandwidth the cable companies can reserve for prioritized traffic to 10 percent of the total bandwidth they have available on each circuit. The rest must be treated equally."