*Update (12/14/17)* The FCC passed the repeal of Net Neutrality by a 3-2 party-line vote. For now, Congress has to step in to stop the repeal.
With so much happening in the world right now, the last thing that people care about is their internet and why should they care about it so much. People pay a single price and they get anything they want to access. All websites and streaming services come at the same speeds, but that could all change if Ajit Pai and the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) decide to repel the Obama-era Net Neutrality regulations, protecting the consumer and the small businesses.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality allows every website to be treated the same. Each connection is given the same priority with equal access to bandwidth so they run at the same speeds. The net neutrality prohibits internet service providers (IPSs) from limiting what people can do online. Net neutrality also allows for smaller companies to grow and not be shut out by bigger companies. Net neutrality also makes internet connections a Title II utility, meaning that IPSs would be treated like utility companies where they cannot prioritize any company’s data over another or allow for “paid prioritization.”
What happens if net neutrality is repealed? And why it matters to you.
If net neutrality is repealed, ISPs could start charging a lot more for internet access. Internet packages would become a thing where, just like TV packages, certain sub categories would be made of different websites and services. For example, there could be a social media package, video package, and a gaming package. All the package would have extra prices on top of them making the internet more expensive for consumers. There are already examples of what companies could do without net neutrality in place. An example many articles are showing is in Portugal, where a company has created five different categories each costing an extra 5 euros. IPSs could also start to charge companies for data speeds, and big companies like Google or Netflix could effectively kill their financially strained competition. For example, let’s say MBA wanted to have faster speeds for their site. MBA could pay Comcast or AT&T a high price to give MBA’s site priority over Ensworth’s site. By giving MBA the higher speeds, Ensworth’s site could fall into oblivion. Yes, that is a bad example. A better example can be found regarding Amazon video and Netflix. Netflix could pay millions to have Amazon’s speeds lowered. In turn, in order to try to gain their lost speed Amazon would pay more. This bidding war would not be good for the consumer because they would end up paying more and more as the company tries desperately to keep their speeds.
Could anything good come from the end of net neutrality?
According to Aijt Pai, the chairman of the FCC, the end of net neutrality would see a rise in competition in the IPS world. His claim, however, is hard for many to imagine. In the US, there are a handful of major providers that dominate the market; Comcast, AT&T, Charter, Verizon, Google, and CenturyLink. These companies would be the only ones to really benefit from the end of net neutrality, not the small companies serving the rural communities. Netflix or Amazon would invest in paying the major broadband providers the big bucks, killing the smaller ISPs. With the smaller companies out of the way, the large companies could move closer to a monopoly or duopoly in the US.
On December 14, the FCC will most likely overturn the Title II net neutrality rules. The only way net neutrality rules stay in place would be if Congress would step in to stop the FCC, but that will most likely not happen. When/if the rules are changed it could take awhile before the consumer sees a change as many court challenges would be tried in order to delay the process. The future of how the internet is run is at stake and by most accounts the end of net neutrality could be a very detrimental thing if handled poorly. If further clarification is needed, please watch John Oliver's video about the subject on YouTube.