How fair do you want the Internet to be when it comes to access and commerce? Your answer is likely based on which side you’re on when it comes to using the channel. Do you want it a public utility? Do you want federal regulations that monitor all activity?
This is an important topic for those in the master agent space as the outcome of current and proposed legislation could alter the operation of the market. A recent Watchdog post explored what’s happening in the world of Net neutrality (News - Alert) and what we may expect to see in the near future.
On the topic of Net neutrality, more than one elected official in the recent past has talked of modernizing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Advocates on both sides of the debate are threatening higher costs for consumers and stifled innovation if their approach isn’t selected as the prevailing method.
The ongoing debate could easily inspire adjusting the Act, but the ultimate outcome at this point is anyone’s guess. The element at stake is the level of control the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) should have over the Internet. The agency reportedly received more than 3.7 million comments regarding its new Net neutrality rules.
The majority of these comments were directed at the agency, calling for the FCC to reclassify broadband services as “common carrier.” This move would render the Internet a public utility, much like the public telephone or electricity, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The move is reportedly on the table.
Much like anything else that goes through this process, there are pros and cons to both sides. There are many who fear the reality of a communications monopoly that resembles the Ma Bell of the 20th century. This camp often argues that competition and not regulation is what prevents the monopolistic system from emerging in this space.
The critical element here, like in everything catching the attention of legislatures, is money. Those with their eye on the big prize and the opportunity to be the next Ma Bell have a different take on Net neutrality. Those who want to be sure the playing field stays level for everyone unfortunately don’t have the means to effectively compete should a giant emerge and set the standard for the rest of the industry.
Those in the master agent space will have to take note as the outcome will certainly impact the industry. The key to ensuring the best outcome is for all involved to read the Act thoroughly and understand the implications, no matter the outcome.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson