The FCC has reclassified the internet: what does it mean for you?

FCC sides with net neutrality

The US Federal Communication Commission today announced a major victory for net neutrality with a new set of rules and a new classification that should keep the web open and neutral.

What does that mean for you? For now, it means that things will stay the same online.

That may not sound like much, but the alternative - letting internet service providers charge to favor certain websites and services with higher speeds - could have changed the internet in major ways.

Stricter rules

The FCC's new Open Internet Order includes strict rules that prohibit those fast lanes as well as app blocking, speed throttling and more, reports The Verge.

Service providers have argued that the FCC doesn't have the authority to enforce these rules, but the commission also succeeded today in reclassifying the internet as a public utility, apparently giving it that authority.

Multiple ISPs previously said they'd challenge such a decision in court, and now we're waiting to hear if they'll follow through on that threat.

Regardless, under the new rules providers can still slow services down for non-business, "reasonable network management" purposes, and they can still make deals with companies like Netflix, although the FCC has the power to investigate those deals.

Strong sentiments

The FCC voted 2-3 in favor of the new rules, and commissioners shared strong sentiments about net neutrality.

"We cannot have a two-tiered internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind," commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said. "We cannot have gatekeepers who tell us what we can and cannot do and where we can and cannot go online. And we do not need blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization schemes that undermine the internet as we know it."

The new protections are scheduled to go into effect in two or three months - barring the many complications that are sure to arise between now and then.