Net neutrality refers to the idea that internet service providers such as Verizon and Comcast treat all the content that is flowing through their cables and cell towers equally. This implies that they are able to slide some data into fast lanes while blocking or otherwise discriminating against other material. Simply put, such companies are not allowed to block you from accessing services such as Skype or slow down Netflix or Hulu in order to keep you using your cable or rather buy a different video-streaming service.
Open Internet Order
Net neutrality dictates that broadband Internet service providers (ISPs), cable and phone companies such as Verizon and Comcast treat all content on the web the same. This was established under the FCC’s open internet order which was adopted in 2010. The order dictates that the broadband provider needs to be transparent about their network performance and how they are managed, whether they can block content and applications as long as they are legal and they cannot discriminate against service provider. In this order ISP service providers are not allowed to give privileges in terms of speed on certain companies over other companies. When it comes to the consumer side, net neutrality leaves it up to the individuals to decide on the type of content that they want to access.
Federal Communications commission revealed its plan to dismantle regulations that ensure equality when it comes to accessing the internet a concept that is known as net neutrality. The regulations classify broadband access as telecommunications service provider which subjects it to a common carrier. Under the new rules ISP’s are not allowed to block access to any site, application, device or service. The only exceptions that existed were for content which was illegal and harmful such as pornography. However adult companies have expressed concerns about loopholes in new policies that enable collusion for the censorship of adult content. Large adult entertainment companies such as PornHub along with adult dating companies, and free local sex hookup sites have joined with other tech companies to oppose policies that can lead to unchecked censorship.
ISPs were not allowed to slow down services or applications. This implies that they are a not allowed to slow down access to them to be specific they are not allowed to give faster or slower access to certain kinds of internet traffic-based content or whether they competed in some way with ISP’s own service. ISP’s were also barred from charging content providers a fee so as to give users faster or more reliable access to the sites. In other words, they are not allowed to create fast lanes on the internet.
Software companies oppose FCC’s moves
Most of the technology companies are opposed to the move among them being Amazon, Google, Airbnb, Netflix, Twitter, Snap and Spotify. These regulations make it possible for telecom companies to force consumer internet companies to pay for their internet connections. And they argue that only the largest companies are able afford these kinds of costs.
The move has created significant uncertainty in the market and has upset the careful balance that has led to the current virtuous circle of innovation in the broadband ecosystem. It has also eliminated restrictions blocking ISP’s ability to block or slow down user access. According to google the internet needs to be competitive and open. This implies that no Internet service provider is allowed to block or degrade the internet traffic or should there be any prioritization in the selling of first lanes. These rules should apply whether internet is being accessed through cable, wireless or other forms of technology.
Telecommunications company support FCC move
There are telecommunication companies which are in support of the move by FCC. Technology companies such as Verizon are arguing that FCC is not talking about killing the net neutrality rules but rather opening internet rules in a way that is enforceable and on a different legal footing. This view is being shared by other telecom companies such as Charter which recently acquired the time Warner company. Enforceable rules should be administered including strong transparency without blocking or anti-discrimination provisions.
Effects of Net Neutrality Law
The new set rules are expected to affect what the user pays for in internet service, what you pay for online content and the kind of content that is possible to view online. Most of the technology experts believe that under the new rule’s ISPs will charge for internet service. With this kind of rules payment for internet service is broken down into a tiered system of bronze, silver and gold level packages. Alternatively, it will be like buying an airline ticket where you pay extra for a bunch of extra packages.
The other possibility is that instead of charging consumers directly ISP will charge content providers fees for faster access to their sites. For instance, streaming media services like Netflix and Hulu would have to pay extra so as to avoid having their streams slowed down to a trickle. These in turn would probably pass the added cost to the users by raising their subscription fees. On the other hand, ISP would simply opt to give the customers access to some content or instead charge a fee for faster access to whichever service they are willing to pay them more money.
There are chances that some of the websites will not be able to access online applications or afford access to the fast internet. As a result, the content will become slower to access and harder to use. The difficulty of dealing with slow-loading sites will very likely lead to the consumers giving upon them altogether. This will make it very hard to find useful information online. For instance, you are a Comcast user and you are thinking about switching ISPs, whenever you try to search online for ISPs in your local area then Comcast could very easily block or slow down access to those sites.
Future of Neutrality
The future of Net Neutrality is on the balance as supporters of net neutrality are still fighting to preserve it at all levels while the opposers are fighting to scrap the rules. It is up to the congress to decide the fate of net neutrality considering the many proposals that have been tabled in the congress.