Asad Mukhtar, a 27-year-old man who is currently employed in Karachi as a cook, is grateful for the free WhatsApp service from his cellphone provider Zong—one of the five largest telecommunications companies in Pakistan, owned by China Mobile. The service “has made communication with my family and friends back home very convenient and I don’t have to worry about data recharge to speak to them,” he told me recently.
Millions of Pakistanis like Mukhtar enjoy free internet offers from their cellphone providers. And thanks to Facebook’s Free Basics initiative, which was intended to help people from developing countries get online, most of them also access a small part of the internet free of cost. But while people may be happily using these offers, they are flagrant violations of net neutrality—the idea that internet access should be the same for everyone and that internet service providers shouldn’t prioritize certain content over the rest of the internet. This often comes in the form of zero-rating plans like Zong’s WhatsApp offer. The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains that “zero-rating plans exempt particular data from counting against a user’s data cap, or from accruing any excess usage charges.” In the U.S., zero-rating plans include T-Mobile’s Binge On, which offers subscribers the opportunity to watch streaming content without it counting toward their data plan—but the video quality is reduced. (Zero-rating services were controversial under the Obama-era net neutrality guidelines, but the Federal Communications Commission closed an investigation into them once the Trump-appointed chair took over.)
The FCC just voted to repeal its net neutrality rules, in a sweeping act of deregulation
Federal regulators voted Thursday to allow Internet providers to speed up service for websites they favor — and block or slow down others — in a decision repealing landmark Obama-era regulations overseeing broadband companies such as AT&T and Verizon.
The move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the telecom and cable industries was a prominent example of the policy shifts taking place in Washington under President Trump and a major setback for consumer groups, tech companies and Democrats who had lobbied heavily against the decision.
The FCC’s net neutrality rules are gone. Now this is what could happen to the Web.
Let’s talk about the end of net neutrality in terms of a hellscape everyone knows: airport security lines.
The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to repeal its net neutrality rules, which since 2015 had prohibited Internet providers from blocking or slowing particular websites. Washington treats it as a partisan issue, but it’s not. A new survey by the University of Maryland shows 83 percent of Americans—including 75 percent of Republicans—support keeping the existing rules after being presented detailed arguments on both sides.
Ajit Pai Nears His Biggest Win With Net Neutrality Repeal
Small tech companies, consumer groups and many celebrities have been up in arms for weeks about a proposal at the Federal Communications Commission to dismantle landmark rules that guarantee an open internet.
But in one speech, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the agency, called the complaints “hysteria” and “hot air.” In another, he dismissed criticism that by pushing the change, he was doing the bidding of companies like Verizon, his former employer. He joked that his nightmare scenario would be refereeing a dispute between Verizon and Sinclair Broadcasting, another company he has been accused of helping with his policies.