What You Need to Know about Net Neutrality
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Computer Science student, Ian St. Pierre, recently explained Net Neutrality to me this way: now that the holidays are quickly approaching, lots of Americans will be shopping online to get gifts for their family and friends. Imagine you’re on Amazon.com buying something for a friend when you notice that the internet speeds have slowed down drastically. You can’t load anything on the Amazon website, but in the past you’ve had no problem using the website. Turns out your internet service provider has just recently gotten a huge payment from EBay.com giving that website more priority over Amazon. Your service provider as slowed down the speeds for Amazon but sped them up for EBay because of the payment. However, your internet service provider offers to give you better speeds-if you pay them more for their service. Currently, something this drastic of a situation cannot happen because of net neutrality. This could all change very soon though.
On December 14, 2017, Congress will hold a vote to decide whether or not net neutrality will be appealed. The vote was brought on when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plan to repeal the act in late November.
There are several things that common consumers need to know about this vote and net neutrality in general. Net neutrality establishes that internet service providers cannot slow down internet speeds intentionally just to charge customers more to get the speeds back up. Net neutrality allows for a fair internet, where consumers can pay for certain services and speeds without having to worry about those services or speeds to decrease with no warning. Consumers pay the one price they choose to pay.
This will all change if net neutrality is eliminated. If this repeal goes through, internet and service providers could block internet traffic and sell “fast lanes” to big business. With this, consumers will be forced to pay more and big business will thrive at their detriment.
The Trump administration and Chairman Pai have already attempted to repeal net neutrality in late November during the Thanksgiving holiday. This was when most Americans were preoccupied with their holiday plans, but repealing net neutrality negatively affects consumers the most.
There is also the argument that repealing net neutrality won’t make things much different than what we already have. After all, there are some companies that already throttle web traffic, and universities do it as well, so other kinds of traffic isn’t slowed down (consider this next time the network at your school is slowed down). These cases of slowing down web traffic are completely legal and haven’t done any insane damage. It’s just part of the market and competition.
According to Metro.us, it has been predicted that the votes will go in favor of repealing net neutrality, so the only way to really know what will happen without net neutrality is to wait and see what happens. Will repealing net neutrality just increase competition among businesses and not do too much damage to consumers, or will consumers find themselves paying much more money to surf the web? We’ll have to wait until December 14 see how the vote goes.