The FCC Assigns Someone to Field Net Neutrality Complaints

Net Neutrality Complaints

Do you have a complaint about Net Neutrality?

Remember the name Parul P. Desai.

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Desai was appointed by the Federal Communications Commission recently to serve as ombudsperson to field Net Neutrality complaints and questions about open Internet access.

The FCC says in a news release:

“As the ombudsperson, Ms. Desai will manage questions or complaints regarding the Open Internet to ensure that small and often unrepresented groups reach the appropriate bureaus and offices to address specific issues of concern.”

The FCC made the announcement a few days after its new Net Neutrality rules went into effect.

Earlier this, year, the FCC essentially ruled in favor of the concept of Net Neutrality, saying the Internet was a utility. It was a ruling welcomed by many consumer groups, small businesses, and startups.

In case you’re not following the story: Large cable and internet companies had wanted to charge a premium to content providers to ensure their data got to consumers first and quickest. It would essentially give some Web content higher priority than others.

Consumer groups opposed this move, arguing all Web content should get equal treatment. (Or in other words, the net would be neutral towards what content it was moving, hence Net Neutrality.)

It’s an important issue for small businesses because it means the data being transferred from your site gets treated the same way as data from a site like Netflix or Amazon.

At the time of the ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said:

“This is the FCC using all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers to ban paid prioritization. Consumers will get what they pay for, unfettered access to any lawful content on the Internet.”

By naming Desai to her new position, the FCC is showing its willingness to enforce its policy.

And there are signs that the ruling is already having an impact.

Sprint announced recently it will stop restricting data speed for its heaviest wireless Internet users, according to the Wall Street Journal, even though the company insists its policy was not a violation. The FCC’s rules cover wireless carriers for the first time.

And on June 17, the FCC said it was planning to fine AT&T $100 million after the agency alleges the company slowed Internet speeds for customers who had purchased its “unlimited” mobile data plan.

It is the largest fine ever proposed by the FCC. The agency accuses the company of advertising a plan as unlimited but capping data speeds once customers used 5 gigabytes of data in a billing period.

AT&T told the Wall Street Journal it had done nothing wrong and would fight the FCC allegations.

Image: FCC Headquarters via Ser Amantio di Nicolao, Wikipedia 3 Comments ▼

Tom Coombe Tom Coombe is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a professional writer for over 15 years, spending most of that time covering news in the Lehigh Valley. He's worked as a reporter for the Allentown Morning Call and an editor for AOL's news service. Tom has also freelanced for WFMZ, the Produce Marketing Association and a number of other publications.

3 Reactions
  1. The Internet has evolved to be more than a place to meet. It has evolved into a community. I guess this will help in the divisions between people online and will make them feel represented.

  2. This is one of the few times where I think the government got it right and they continue to make good decisions. The fine for AT&T sends the right message even if it gets reduced somewhere down the line and I hope to continue hearing good things from Parul.

  3. I have a complaint about the net neutrality. It is a dumb rule. T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L.

    It should be up to the market players to decide how they want to offer their services to the customers. If you have a complaint about the service, you could vote with your pocket and go to a competitor, or start your own service, on a free market.

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