Net neutrality takes effect Friday; ISPs scramble to avoid complaints | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

The Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules take effect Friday this week, and they’ve already had a noticeable impact on the behavior of Internet service providers.

The FCC passed the rules on February 26, but they didn’t get published in the Federal Register until April 13. The publication date started the 60-day waiting period until the rules take effect, and it has been a busy two months.

The latest news occurred today when AT&T and network operator Cogent announced a new interconnection agreement for exchanging Internet traffic. If AT&T Internet users were experiencing trouble reaching websites, this could resolve that problem for any Internet traffic traveling from Cogent to AT&T.

The “long-term, bilateral interconnection agreement for their IP networks… will not only improve efficiency of traffic exchange but also create additional capacity and new interconnection locations between the networks, allowing customers to continue to experience high-quality performance and network reliability,” the companies said.

Interconnection disputes weren’t even the primary impetus for passing net neutrality rules. The FCC order’s most specific guidelines prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. But interconnection is where the rules are having their most visible effect.

The FCC’s blocking and throttling bans don’t cover interconnection problems, in which traffic gets slowed down because there isn’t enough capacity to transfer it all from one network to another. ISPs have been demanding payments from companies like Cogent in exchange for upgrading the network links, and the FCC didn’t ban those payments. But the commission said it would let companies file complaints against ISPs to determine whether they are making unreasonable demands and harming consumers by not upgrading infrastructure.

 

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