President Obama won’t take the appeal court striking down the FCC’s net neutrality rules lying down, with a White House statement saying that the commander in chief is still “committed to an open internet.” The surprise decision earlier today that US broadband providers could charge content companies to deliver at higher speeds has prompted renewed fears of a multi-tier internet where the best service is available only to those with the deepest pockets. Now, Obama has waded in with his renewed support for the principle of net neutrality.
“The President remains committed to an open Internet,” the White House said in a statement to Reuters, “where consumers are free to choose the websites they want to visit and the online services they want to use, and where online innovators are allowed to compete on a level playing field based on the quality of their products.”
The FCC had been pushing for equality, where no one company could pay for preferential treatment. However, it had some high-profile rivals who didn’t agree, notably Verizon, which want the flexibility to charge different amounts.
Verizon was quick to argue that the court’s decision today “will not change consumers’ ability to access and use the internet as they do now” according to executive VP Randal Milch and that, instead, it will give more room for flexibility in “innovation” moving forward.
Exactly how Obama will defend the principle of net neutrality is unclear; the President’s statement offered no specifics. The FCC itself is considering an appeal of the decision today, it told Bloomberg in a statement.
According to one of Verizon’s lawyers, the company is looking for what it describes as a “two-sided market” in broadband. That would see not only broadband subscribers paying for service, as happens today, but service providers paying as well.
Among the concerns is that the amounts Verizon – and others – charge those companies to reach each subscriber could differ, or could simply be so high that startups are priced out of competition.