The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday that it will propose new rules for Internet usage that will allow service providers to charge higher rates for faster lanes. This proposal would effectively end net neutrality, the long-held concept that all content providers should be allowed equal access to consumers, and that consumers should have the same equal access to content.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler denied that net neutrality would come to an end with this proposal, according to the New York Times. “There is no ‘turnaround in policy.’ The same rules will apply to all Internet content.”
But not the same costs. Broadband providers will have the option of charging a premium price for access to their fastest Internet lanes. Large content providers like Disney, Netflix and Google have the resources for such access, but smaller content providers may be shuffled off to the slower lanes.
If you are a communicator working with a brand that relies on broadband for consumer outreach, you may be faced with a rise in the cost of producing and effectively delivering content. One of the most likely outcomes of the FCC’s rule will be a tiered pricing structure for broadband access, and you will need to decide where you fit into that scheme.
Your brand may also be faced with rethinking the scale of its outreach. The choice could be between reaching out to the same audience with a reduced level of content, or targeting a reduced audience with the same level of content.
The FCC will write and release its rules for public comment on May 15. This will be a story worth watching closely.
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