From the horse’s mouth
Press Release (PDF) – FCC
Through this action. the FCC have become the first national-government telecommunications department in a major English-speaking country to use their executive power to “set in stone” a minimum standard for “Net Neutrality”.
Basically, their standard requires wireline services (cable Internet, ADSL, optical-fibre) to pass all lawful Internet content and allow users to connect non-harmful devices to their Internet services. This would therefor prohibit limiting of access to “over-the-top” Internet video, VoIP and similar services. Similarly it requires wireless services (3G, WiMAX, etc) not to blocking sites that compete with their business offerings like VoIP services.
There is still a problem with the wireless services in that they could block access to competing app stores on platforms that permit such stores, set up “walled gardens” when it comes to mobile content or provide “preferential tariffs” for particular services. This can be of concern to those of us who, for example, use client-side applications and commonly-known URLs to gain access to the Social Web rather than the carrier’s preferred “entry point” bookmarks or URLs. Similarly, the carrier could gouge people who go to favourite media Websites rather than the ones that the carrier has a partnership with. This last point may be of concern when mass-media outlets and wireless-broadband carriers see the “mobile screen” as another point of influence over the populace and establish partnerships or mergers based on this premise.
Net Neutrality will also have to be considered an important issue as part of defining the basic Internet service standard for the country so that service providers or gavernments can’t provide it just to people who purchase upper-tier service for example.
A good issue would be for other national-government or trading-bloc communications authorities to tune this definition further so that if there is the goal of Net Neutrality, it becomes harder to avoid the standard.