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Net Neutrality Ruling a Win for REALTORS®

By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday issued rules to require all Internet content to be treated the same by the companies that control the flow of Internet data into homes and offices. NAR supports this so-called net neutrality issue to help ensure real estate brokers and others in real estate that make heavy use of the Internet won’t face disruption or changes in their services by Internet service providers (ISPs).
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Under the rules, which have been some five years in the making, the ISPs  (mainly cable and telephone companies such as Verizon and Comcast) are prohibited from blocking lawful content, applications, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network. The ISPs must also create a level playing field for all providers of content on the Internet. That is to say, they can’t treat the flow of content of one Web site different from the flow of content of another Web site.

That’s not to say ISPs can’t change different rates to consumers based on the amount of bandwidth they consume. They can. If a consumer ties up a lot of bandwidth by, say, downloading a lot of video, the ISPs can charge that person more, because bandwidth is a finite resource. But the ISPs can’t discriminate against content providers (that is, Web sites) based on their type of content. If the ISP has one policy for Web sites that make video available on their site, they have to maintain that policy for other sites that make video available. The user experience must be the same.

The issue doesn’t seem like a real estate matter, but many real estate brokers and sales associates today maintain a big Internet presence. The concern is that ISPs could start picking and choosing who will get super-fast service and who won’t. That could be a problem for a real estate brokerage that streams a lot of video listings. If the ISP were to decide it didn’t want to tie up so much of its bandwidth for that use, and so restricted the data flow for that Web site, but was willing to enter into a deal with another Web site to get preferential treatment of its video offerings, that would pose a problem for the brokerage.

The FCC order, which contains other rules, including some having to do with disclosing information to consumers about the characteristics of their Internet access and how their networks are managed, has its critics, particularly among the ISPs, who are likely to challenge the order in court.

NAR’s position is that the FCC has chosen its approach, and that approach seeks to ensure even treatment for those who increasingly rely on the Internet for their business, so that’s the approach that has received NAR’s support.  Background on the issue is detailed in an April 9 post.

More on the issue is available on REALTOR.org.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is manager of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at rfreedman@realtors.org.

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Comments
  1. Oh yeah…brilliant idea! Allow our Bureaucratic Pig of a Government to begin the process controlling of the greatest free enterprise of the last 200 years.
    Genius. The Internet is instantaneous. Which part of the government is is even remotely fast? Which part of our government is creative and innovative? Never mind the question is rhetorical; the answer is none.
    This is about control, pure and simple. Give the FCC a foothold and watch the regulations come flow down hill, like devastating mud slides in California.
    Way to pick the right side of this one NCAR.
    Don’t speak for me.

  2. Mike

    You can’t be serious.

    The FCC acted against Congress, the courts and the American people in seizing control. That alone voids any possible benefit you could glean from this seizure of control by a federal bureaucracy (NOT the government provided for by the US Constitution).

    In the article you say that under Net Neutraility, an ISP cannot restrict the use of bandwidth by a provider. Right now, ISP’s offer packages based on how much bandwidth is needed. A company, who uses a ton of bandwidth naturally pays more for their hosting than does a single agent who mostly just markets to clients. This arrangement has worked just fine throughout the life of the internet.

    You use the phrase “restrict the data flow” for the resourse an ISP has for a site using too much bandwidth. If this happens, the company has two choices – pay more for the needed extra bandwidth or pare down the content it provides. This type of restriction helps the internet work as well as it does. Some companies can afford the bandwidth and have full-blown sites while others who cannot afford it provide much more modest sites. Bandwidth being finite, this opening of the gates could cause congestion on the Internet.

    Furthermore, you point out that it is the consumers that could wind up paying more for bandwidth so that they can view the bandwidth-eating content provided by companies. If that were the case what would be the first content that consumers would stop using? The advertising provided by the companies (streaming video, large photos, narrated tours, newsletters etc).

    Net Neutrality, as you explain it, will have an effect on the internet and market opposite to the one you describe.

  3. Steve Simmons

    This is just another take over by un-elected (hand picked by an elected officials with personal and private agendas) workers within our government, just wait until the “harmless SB510″ for food safety is passed by the house, sure there is some safe guards (already in place) but soon they will be able to regulate how much dust a farmer is allowed to create, what crops they can plant (do you remember corn and fuels from such) started 30 days ago at $550 and is now over $600 a bushel, when the “government” does something for us, it costs US money, with the money going to the friends in high places. Open your eves America they are taking away YOUR freedoms!!!

  4. Martin

    I am greatly trouble and disturbed that NAR actually thinks more government intrusion in the public sector is a good thing…I guess as members we need to really pay more attention to who we elect to represent us.

  5. You are absolutely right. The government can now exercise its complete influence over the web which means that the era of a free Internet has just ended.

  6. Melaine Anderson

    NAR – you are wrong. It is shamefull you support additional government regulation.

  7. Pat

    This is a very disappointing choice by the NAR. As REALTORS(R), We should all know by now that free enterprise works best without overregulation. As the previous comments and the article itself notes, internet bandwidth is the prime determinate. Thus, the more bandwidth used the greater the value. But this regulation requires ISP’s to treat all users the same. Clue – means everyone will all pay more – its only fair! So how does this help? Clue – only those REALTOR(R) and firms with the financial wherewithal will be the only ones on the internet – great way to weed out the competition.

  8. I suspect that this will be one of those cases where the government steps in to solve a non-existent problem and ends up creating more problems in the process.

    Unless, of course, its gets struck down by the courts.

    Either way, its an adminstrative power-grab by three unelected bureaucrats that bypasses Congressional authority. NAR should rethink its position on both the policy and the process.

  9. Realtor’s are such a pimple on this problem that we (as business people) will be largely unaffected by this situation. The real problem will be between the network owners (Comcast, Verizon, Time-Warner, etc) and the video content suppliers (NetFlix, YouTube, Google). Real estate data is miniscule by comparison.

  10. Eve Marks

    It’s ashame when we allow federal beaurocrats to gain greater control over “We the people” ! I’m extremely disappointed in this organization condoning and rallying for this regulation. When you give up liberty you don’t deserve freedom! Great going!

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