Net Neutrality is the hot topic in recent days. You’ve probably heard about it by now, and especially if you’ve been around a computer or a TV. There is a lot of confusion about what net neutrality is / isn’t and what it means for you as a consumer.
We will try our best to sum up the main points and outline the situation.
What is Net Neutrality?
To explain exactly what net neutrality is we need to first explain how the internet works. We’ll try to break it down in a simple way.
You currently pay an internet service provider (ISP), such as Cox or CenturyLink, which in return gives you access to the internet. There are companies who provide you content on the internet (aka things to do on the internet). These content providers are companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook.
Net neutrality is mostly a battle between ISPs and content providers. The current regulations that are in place were first put there by the Obama administration in 2015. These regulations state that ISPs cannot charge content providers more based on the amount of usage. All content providers are charged the same no matter how much of the ISP traffic they’re using.
ISPs want to charge certain content providers more depending on the amount of data they’re using. Those that can’t pay will have a harder time providing content to users and may get hit with reduced speeds. This is where the main fight of net neutrality is.
What does it all mean?
One of the main concerns is that this “extra charge” ISPs want to push on content providers will be forwarded onto us the consumer. This would probably mean an increase in internet prices or more subscription based models for using a certain website. Although this is not a guarantee it is definitely not a favorable situation for consumers and small businesses who are already using their income as resourceful as possible.
You will have internet tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Nothing is going to change overnight. There is still a chance that Congress could overrule the FCC’s decision, and states could also make decisions to keep net neutrality in their state.
It is important to do your own research and be cautious of anything you read on this topic (and any topic for that matter). Look into all the regulations, read them for yourself, and make an opinion based on that. Whatever side of the coin you happen to be on, people generally like to report only towards best or worst-case scenarios before anything has even happened.
Although we understand it might be difficult when the FCC has generally made the statement that: we’ll just have to trust our ISPs to not gouge us on prices. Especially when said ISPs have a track record like when AT&T blocked iPhone users from using their “Facetime” application unless they paid for a premium service. This type of behavior is what scares so many people. Without net neutrality, those types of practices wouldn’t be stopped by the FCC. It just seems like a very slippery slope.
The general consensus is that corporations only care about one thing, Money. Many people just feel this is another way to stuff corporate CEO’s pockets. It definitely makes it harder to trust the FCC and our ISPs when the Head of the FCC is a former major attorney for Verizon (one of those ISPs that would benefit from a net neutrality repeal).
Another major issue is that although the repeal of net neutrality is meant to increase competition for ISPs, there are MANY places in America where only one ISP is available for use. We see it locally with America Broadband being the only option for some customers. Ideally this would give smaller ISPs more of a chance to grow and spread. But, would removing many restrictions on the large companies help the small companies grow? And if the small ISPs still can’t compete would the large ISPs provide quality internet at fair, reasonable prices? That is yet to be seen, but it looks like this will be a long fight with many twists and turns still to be had.
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