“Verizon and the Federal Communications Commission are poised to re-open a debate on net neutrality, or the ability for Internet service providers to prefer some users over others, in a court battle that could have big implications for media industry upstarts like Netflix, Google Amazon and Pandora,” Antoine Gara writes for TheStreet.

“While Verizon’s court battle with the FCC does have clear freedom of speech implications, in the near-term the biggest issues of the case are likely to be economic. Cable and telecom giants such as Verizon believe they should have a say on how to charge for data after spending billions of dollars to build out high speed nationwide Internet service,” Gara writes. “Verizon is challenging a 2010 Open Internet Order ruling by the FCC, which said that Internet service providers could not block or discriminate against Web traffic, ultimately giving all sites equal access to the Internet. For high users of Internet data such as Netflix, Amazon and traditional broadcast and cable channels, the decision has allowed them to build out streaming video services and dominate Web data usage on most nights.”

Gara writes, “‘[The] case has the potential to open a Pandora’s box of cable and telecom issues, from who pays what to whom for transport to whether it is or isn’t anti-competitive for cable operators to impose usage caps and charge for usage,’ Craig Moffett, co-head of research firm MoffettNathanson wrote in a Sept. 6 note. He expects the FCC will lose, given the precedent set by an appeal filed by cable giant Comcast against its order in 2010… ‘As we’ve argued many times before, Net Neutrality was never really about the high minded principles of non-discrimination and First Amendment censorship. It is about who pays what to whom,’ Moffett wrote.”

Read more in the full article here.

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