The Federal Communications Commission embraced broad net-neutrality rules in a 3-2 vote last week that ensures health technology startups and telehealth companies won't face higher costs for Internet fast lanes.
The rules essentially reclassify the Internet as a public utility and will force network carriers to treat all Internet traffic equally, prohibiting them from charging extra for faster service or selectively slowing down certain types of traffic. The regulations may prove critical for the burgeoning digital health sector that relies on moving large quantities of data and conducting more services over the Internet.
The rules appear to be broader than expected, although final rules will not be available for some time. FCC commissioners at the public meeting said the rule will apply to wired (cable or broadband) and wireless (mobile) networks.
The latter category is crucial for a growing number of healthcare companies, American Well Senior Vice President Mike Putnam said. His video visits company has handled an increasing share of provider visits over mobile networks since releasing an app allowing patients to connect with doctors through video functions on their phones. That makes ensuring high performance crucial to the business model, and Putnam said the FCC's net-neutrality rules are the best way to do that.