On July 12, hundreds of companies and organizations will participate in the Day of Action for Net Neutrality. The event has the support of internet giants such as Amazon and Netflix as well as civil organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The Day of Action will take place five days before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to close the first comment period on its endeavor to dismantle net-neutrality rules. The comment period ends on July 17.

Participants in the event will demonstrate their support for net neutrality in an effort to generate more defense for the FCC's net-neutrality rules. Supporters of net neutrality hope to motivate Americans to register a comment on the FCC's website.

Previously, organizations such as these have staged events such as a blackout for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 and the Internet Slowdown Day in 2014).

Internet users expecting a shutdown of their favorite services can rest assured that isn't the plan. Participating websites may choose to display an alert to include the "spinning wheel of death" or messages to indicate content is blocked by the user's internet service provider (ISP). Mobile apps may send a push notification. The rest of the campaign will be carried out on participating organizations' social media.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally and that no ISP can hinder the accessibility of any lawful website.

Thus far, net-neutrality rules and enforcement have fallen under the purview of the FCC, which, in 2014, imposed Title II classification of the internet under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The act achieved net neutrality under FCC regulation, a move that has been politically controversial.

The debate

Under the Trump administration, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a strong proponent for FCC net-neutrality rules, stepped down, and current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai assumed power. Pai has long-held opposition to FCC regulation of the internet, and under his direction, the FCC is working to undo its net-neutrality rules.

At the core of the net-neutrality debate, opponents contend net-neutrality rules under the FCC would hinder internet infrastructure development. Opponents argue ISPs would invest less in their networks, slowing growth in broadband service. Opponents also argue the rules prevent ISPs from finding new business models that would help them compete against software and digital platform giants like Google and Facebook. Furthermore, FCC Chairman Pai's core stance is that ISP user agreements can achieve net neutrality fundamentally without the need for federal government regulation. These agreements could then be enforced by antitrust agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission.

Proponents contend, however, that the internet should be treated as a utility, given its role in communication, productivity, education, and more in every industry. Proponents see the internet as an intrinsic part of modern life and that it should, therefore, have the same protections as electricity and telephones. Net-neutrality advocates argue that, without internet protections, ISPs would be free to enact initiatives that would harm consumers and small businesses, especially those in e-commerce.

As the debate plays out, the good news for electrical contractors working in fiber optics infrastructure is all signs point to a continued increased deployment and investment. It's a good bet that ECs doing this work are secure. However, as business owners and consumers who rely on the internet for conducting, executing, and administrating that work, ECs may be concerned about the internet's future as a tool and utility.

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