On Thursday the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is widely exected to approve regulating, under the Communications Act, equal access to the internet, commonly known as net neutrality. “All people can get access to it at the same speed whether they be individuals or companies,” says Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst, S&P Dow Jones Indices.
The net neutrality debate has divided lawmakers and corporate chieftains across the internet and telecom landscape. Silverblatt is among the many on Wall Street monitoring how the ruling may impact companies such as Netflix (NFLX) and Facebook (FB). “Those companies have a vested interest in maintaining net neutrality.”
Related: Netflix on net neutrality
If the FCC votes against regulating the internet as a public utility, which is unlikely according to the New York Times (NYT), it would likely benefit the nation’s largest telcos, AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), in Silverblatt’s opinion. “If they do not vote to regulate, the continued situation will be that some providers will charge more for quicker speed.”
Understandably, companies like AT&T are readying for a fight to protect their pricing power. Earlier this month on CNBC, CEO Randall Stephenson sounded off and warned of potential litigation.
Because of the uncertainty around the details tied to the vote, investors and consumers can expect a lengthy legal battle before anything becomes iron clad.