Netflix, Mozilla, others protest FCC net neutrality proposal with Internet Slowdown Day

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Mozilla and a group of consumer advocates are showing their frustration over the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules, which could include the creation of Internet fast lanes, by holding Internet Slowdown Day.

The protest has been organized by Battle for the Net, a coalition of groups supporting net neutrality.

Any user that goes to Netflix, Etsy, Wordpress, Foursquare and Vimeo websites will see a continuous site-loading icon on each site. These companies said that showing this icon is a way to "remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like."

"Cable companies would have the power to discriminate against online content and applications – they could pick winners and losers, shake sites down for fees, block content for political reasons and make it easier for Internet users to view cable content," Battle for the Net said on its website.

This protest is focused on creating awareness about net neutrality and encouraging consumers to tell their lawmakers to reclassify the Internet as Title II, or "common carrier."

After a Washington, D.C., Court rejected the FCC's net neutrality rules earlier this year, a group of public interest groups, lawmakers and businesses have been arguing that Title II reclassification of broadband Internet is the only way the regulator can ensure nondiscriminatory net neutrality rules. The deadline for the final round of public comments on net neutrality is due to the FCC on Sept. 15.

One of the key issues that's driven this latest protest is the FCC's proposed rule changes that would allow Internet content providers to charge a premium for "fast lane" access to their last mile broadband networks. It could also enable broadband providers like Verizon or Comcast to degrade some Internet traffic, particularly online video traffic that competes with traditional pay-TV services incumbent telcos and cable operators sell today.

A number of these deals have already taken place. Netflix has signed deals with both Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA). It has also begun talks with AT&T (NYSE: T) for a similar arrangement.  

However compelling the call for Title II is by these groups, there's an equally powerful movement brewing among 33 telecom and related networking vendors--including Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Cisco. These equipment vendors are members of two of the most powerful telecom and cable industry groups--the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

In a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, these companies wrote that Title II reclassification would actually "create unnecessary obstacles" to broadband deployment and adoption.

"A sudden shift from the existing light-touch approach – which has been an unqualified success and the basis for billions of dollars in investments – to the prescriptive regime of Title II would be extremely disruptive to the broadband marketplace," they wrote.

For more:
- Public Knowledge has this post
- Reuters has this article
- see the vendors' letter (.pdf)

Related articles:
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FCC's Wheeler: Competition will drive new broadband speeds, availability
FCC's Wheeler challenges Tennessee's anti-municipal broadband laws
FCC's Wheeler wants to eliminate municipal broadband barriers
FCC's Wheeler says he'll maintain the Open Internet

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