The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as Title II "common carriers", a public utility-type designation that gives the FCC the ability to set rates, open up access to competitors and more closely regulate the industry.
Where net neutrality stands: Under the Open Internet Order enacted by the FCC in 2015, internet providers can not block access to content on websites or apps, interfere with loading speeds, or provide favoritism to those who pay extra. They have signed up nearly 200 participants in the day of action, and created explainer videos, banner advertisements, tools and suggested messaging for communicating with users en masse about why net neutrality matters. So AT&T professing, in any context, that it actually supports net neutrality might just be the most incredible bullshit to ever emerge from the Dallas-based telecommunications conglomerate.
Tech companies plan to display special messages as part of a "Day of Action", an online protest of proposed changes to net neutrality rules that would loosen regulations. The tech companies also have financial skin in the game: They fear that without net neutrality rules, internet service providers could charge them hefty fees to reach consumers with priority upload and download speeds. Comments are now open to the FCC until July 17. But that's the point AT&T is making: the company claims to support an "open Internet" even though it opposes the current FCC rules created to protect the open Internet. This means providers can not prefer one website or service over the other by granting unequal loading speeds or by blocking or slowing content.
Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight for the Future, a group that helped to organize the online protest said, "We're trying to make it easier for real people to comment and make their voices heard". AT&T and other internet providers, meanwhile, are strong supporters of the FCC's proposed action.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a blog post in late April: "We don't block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content delivered over the internet, and we are committed to continuing to manage our business and network with the goal of providing the best possible consumer experience".
AT&T announced Tuesday that it would join the day of action despite having consistently made pushes against the rules. Independent creators such as ourselves would be greatly disadvantaged by the removal of Title II protections and the inevitable creation of fast lanes that would privilege the large media companies that can afford to pay for such service. "We are seeing a large trend toward consolidation in a number of industries, and one of them is the telecom and internet content space", he said.
Other participants in the day of action include Amazon, Etsy, Mozilla, Kickstarter, Netflix, Reddit, Vimeo, Fight for the Future, Center for Media Justice, Free Press, and Demand Justice, among others. Tomorrow during the day of action, you'll be getting prompts to send comments to the FCC so that they keep the current Net Neutrality ruling. Maria Cantwell and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, both Democrats, fielded questions from residents, almost all of them concerned about how the rule change would affect their access to the internet.