Any changes are likely to happen slowly, as companies assess how much consumers will tolerate.
The repeal of “net neutrality” took effect six months after the
Internet providers such as
Now, all that is legal as long as companies post their policies online.
The change comes as broadband and cellphone providers expand their efforts to deliver video and other content to consumers.
With net neutrality rules gone,
The battle isn’t entirely over, though. Some states are moving to restore net neutrality, and lawsuits are pending. Also, the Senate voted to save net neutrality, though that effort isn’t likely to become law.
For now, broadband providers insist they won’t do anything that would harm the “internet experience” for consumers. Most currently have service terms that specify they won’t give preferential treatment to certain websites and services, including their own.
However, companies are likely to drop these self-imposed restrictions; they will just wait until people aren’t paying a lot of attention, said Marc Martin, a former
Companies are likely to start testing the boundaries over the next six months to a year. Expect to see more offers like
Critics of net neutrality, including the Trump administration, say such rules impeded companies’ ability to adapt to a quickly evolving internet.
But consumer advocates say that the repeal is just pandering to big business and that cable and phone giants will now be free to block access to services they don’t like. They can also set up “fast lanes” for preferred services — in turn, relegating everyone else to “slow lanes.” Tech companies such as
Martin said broadband providers probably won’t mess with existing services like
But they could start charging extra for services not yet offered. For instance, they might charge more to view high-resolution “4K” video, while offering lower-quality video for free. The fees would be paid by the video services, such as Hulu, and could be passed along to consumers in higher subscription rates.
More than 20 states sued the government to stop the repeal, as did the public-interest group Free Press and the think tank Open Technology Institute and Firefox browser maker
That’s another reason companies are likely to move slowly, at least at first.
“They don’t want to add fuel to the fire,” Martin said.