Internet is a utility, not a luxury, federal court rules

Net Neutrality

Internet broadband providers can expect more regulations and web users — including cable cutters who rely on streaming services — can expect greater protections.

In a landmark decision Tuesday, a three-judge panel at the United states Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made a 2-to-1 decision to treat high-speed internet service as a utility, not a luxury service which wouldn’t require closer government regulation. As a result, broadband companies would prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.

“After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections — both on fixed and mobile networks — that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

The New York Times is reporting that several companies, including AT&T, plan to fight against the ruling.

“We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” David McAtee II, the senior executive vice president and general counsel for AT&T, told the paper.

The ruling is a major win for streaming services likes Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Netflix has been a big supporter of Net neutrality, saying that all Internet speeds should be “treated equally.” In other words, broadband providers can’t block or slow down online services based on use.