Harmful 5G Fast Lanes are Coming. The FCC Needs to Stop Them

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on April 25 to restore its authority over the companies we pay to get online, and reinstate federal net neutrality protections that were jettisoned by the Trump administration in 2017.  Net neutrality protections are supposed to ensure that we, not the internet service providers (ISPs) we pay to get online, get to decide what we do online. The FCC released its draft rules early in April and there’s much to celebrate in them. However, there’s a huge problem: the proposed rules make it possible for mobile ISPs to start picking applications and putting them in a fast lane—where they’ll perform better generally and much better if the network gets congested. The FCC’s draft order opens the door to these fast lanes, so long as the app provider isn’t charged for them. These kinds of ISP-controlled fast lanes violate core net neutrality principles and would limit user choice, distort competition, hamper startups, and help cement platform dominance. Luckily, there’s still time to fix this. The FCC can and should edit the draft order ahead of the vote on April 24 and clarify in the Order that the no-throttling rule also prohibits ISPs from creating fast lanes for select apps or kinds of apps. The FCC just needs to put this fix in the fast lane to get it done before it votes on April 25.