The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it plans to dismantle net neutrality regulations on internet providers, and that a vote will be taken to rescind the open internet rules on Dec. 14. This has been met by protests from various angles while some see it as a welcome development, some others believe it will allow service providers favour some companies over others and this in turn may affect the quality of service of those unfavoured companies.
So what exactly is Net Neutrality and how does it affect YOU?
“Net neutrality is just the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) (the company you get your internet service from) can’t discriminate their traffic. Traffic in this context refers to any piece of data that passes through the internet. Could be an email, could be a web site, could be a movie. It means ISPs must treat all legal Internet data the same — regardless of where it comes from or who it is going to. That is ISPs are “not allowed to interfere with what the subscriber wants to do or where the subscriber wants to go.” Under net neutrality regulations, ISPs are not allowed to block or throttle — meaning slow down — websites or applications
When net neutrality is enforced, as it is right now, all internet service providers must allow equal access to apps and content, regardless of the source. If it were not enforced, your internet service provider could make it harder for you to access parts of the internet at its own discretion. The current rules impose utility-style regulations on Internet service providers (ISPs) that prevent them from favoring their own services or certain customers over that of competitors.
The Web Without Net Neutrality?
Without the assurance of net neutrality, large internet companies could favor their own business interests. Telecom giants and Silicon Valley titans are likely to lobby lawmakers in the coming days and weeks, but for now, net neutrality could affect everything from internet speed to overall access.
The elimination of net neutrality means that internet providers can carve up service into fast and slow lanes, charging more for higher speeds. If content companies don’t want to pay, internet service providers could make them so slow that they’re unwatchable or even block access to competitors’ sites.
What Would This Mean for You and I?
Repealing net neutrality regulations means consumers could start paying more for their Internet services, critics said. Consumers could also see ISPs start to “bundle” services — such as certain websites or applications — and charge more depending on what a person wants access to, experts said.