The Federal Communications Commission might understand the modern Internet after all. The Washington Post reports that the agency is preparing to increase the requirement for an Internet connection to be considered “high speed” from 4mbps — which might have been good enough when people were just trying to escape AOL’s clutches, but is no longer enough to offer a decent experience on which streaming services and other modern luxuries rely — to 25mbps.
That bump would allow the United States to admit that its Internet infrastructure pales in comparison to other developed countries, and might convince Internet service providers to work a bit harder to keep consumers happy instead of contenting themselves with pure hatred. At the very least it shows that someone in the FCC has used the Internet in the last decade.
But news about our Internet infrastructure never stops when it’s good, and this report is no exception, as Rep. Bob Latta has introduced a bill that would prevent the FCC from classifying the Internet as a public utility. Activists have campaigned for that reclassification since the FCC’s draft proposal for new net neutrality laws were first leaked in April because it would give the FCC the power to prevent ISPs from fucking over their customers and stifling innovation.
Why would Latta object to that? Maybe because he received $51,000 in contributions from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and other companies interested in blocking this reclassification in the two-year period ending in December 2013, according to an Ars Technica report. That’s hardly unique to Latta — lawmakers expected to protect consumers by scrutinizing the merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast or creating new net neutrality rules in all levels of government have received similar donations from the very industry they’re supposed to watch.
Such is the state of the United States’ approach to regulating the Internet: as soon as it takes one step forward, even one that should have been made years ago, it’s pushed right back by an industry that is willing to do whatever it takes to make a buck — and politicians willing to sell their souls in exchange for the ability to stay in office and make a mockery of the whole thing.
On second thought, perhaps I should have just said “Internet companies” and “politicians.”