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New law could make it illegal for ISPs to inhibit streaming video

Streaming video is increasingly common in homes today, but Internet service providers are accused of slowing down speeds for video viewers. A new bill seeks to stop that.

streaming video

streaming video

Big move could impact streaming video

Over the past few years, there have been allegations of Internet service providers (ISPs) deliberately slowing down or tampering with the quality of data from streaming video services. The most recent example of this is when Netflix accused Verizon of allowing traffic to become backed up, resulting in a degraded connection for Netflix customers.

The new law, which Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced, would make this restrictive activity illegal. Rockefeller wants to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to deal with the numerous ways in which telecoms have attempted to slow down streaming video and eliminate the telecom companies’ ability to make it more expensive with degraded quality.

US Bill S.1680, or the “Consumer Choice in Online Video Act” hopes to be the answer for consumers who have experienced these problems.

Why is this being discussed?

Many people receive their Internet and cable TV from the same company, which means it may be in the best interests of this company to jam, or degrade the quality of your streaming video service, like Netflix, so that consumers will not be tempted to drop cable TV. More and more consumers are looking to save money, and video streaming is becoming an increasingly popular way to ditch cable/satellite TV and still have access to current programming.

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The proposed bill addresses this very issue, stating, “ISPs that are affiliated with a multichannel video programming distributor or an online video distributor have an increased incentive to degrade the delivery of, or block entirely, traffic from the websites of other online video distributors…because online video distributors pose a threat to those affiliates’ video programming distribution businesses.” The bill seeks to end these practices by making them illegal. It would be illegal for any ISP to engage in any method of unfair competition which prevents an online video distributor from providing programming to their customers.

Bottom line: if the bill is passed, your ISP will no longer be able to cap, distort, or in any way tamper with video streaming services, but the bill does not forbid ISPs from increasing rates for no longer throttling. So, here is to hoping the quality, speed, and connection rates improve, the rates don’t skyrocket, and the bill passes, because everyone deserves to make a choice, whether that is cable/satellite TV, or streaming services.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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