The short version of why Net Neutrality matters: Paid prioritization of internet traffic could create "fast lanes" for some content, and block or slow access to other content.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy today asked large Internet providers to promise they won't strike deals that would relegate certain websites, streaming services, or apps to such "fast lanes."
"These types of arrangements pose a significant threat of dividing the Internet into those who can afford to compete and those who cannot," the Vermont Democrat wrote in his letters, which you can read in entirety here.
"Allowing the Internet to become a two-tiered system of 'haves' and 'have-nots,' controlled by a small number of corporate gatekeepers, would destroy everything that has made it one of the greatest innovations in human history," Leahy wrote. "We need meaningful pledges from our Nation's broadband providers that they share the American public's commitment to an Internet that remains open and equally accessible to all."
Comcast has said it was reviewing Leahy's letter and a Verizon representative did not comment on Thursday. Spokespeople for AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Charter did not immediately have comment.
Letters from Leahy, a key lawmaker on antitrust issues, come at a time when the Justice Department and the FCC are reviewing two major merger proposals: a $45 billion deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable and a $48.5 billion deal between AT&T and satellite TV provider DirecTV.
As part of its merger deal, Comcast planned to sell a portion of its subscribers to Charter.