(WBIR) The future of the internet and how much we pay to use it could soon be changing.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on Thursday to advance new net neutrality rules. Net neutrality means everybody has equal share of the bandwidth that is available.
Critics of the proposed rules said it would end up favoring companies with the deepest pockets and ultimately hurt customers the most. But companies could pay internet providers, like Comcast, to get their content streamed faster than those who do not pay.
"It doesn't feel like the end user is going to be the winner out of any of this," said Dan Thompson, manager of product development for Claris Networks in Knoxville.
Thompson said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal contradicts itself.
"Providers such as Comcast, Verizon, other internet service providers, can't slow other web pages down in order to give other people preferential treatment, but they can give people preferential treatment. It's a bit of a confusing ruling because what they've said, from a technical standpoint it can't really be done," Thompson said.
Thompson compared it to a highway. Every driver has the same speed limit. But what if there was a fast lane and you had to pay to use? Inevitably, there would be more cars in fewer lanes and as a result, traffic would slow down.
Thompson said it is still unknown how it would affect the consumer but there is the possibility customers could be footing the bill.
"If you just think of the way business works, if I have to spend X amount of dollars to get this fast lane because otherwise my service isn't any good, well I mean somebody has to pay for that and generally it's going to be the customer," he said.
The focus on net neutrality came after a federal court threw out of the FCC's existing rules in January.
The plan now is in a public comment period. When that ends, the FCC will formally vote on it some time after July 15.