Net Neutrality Explained. Many consider Net Neutrality a “political” argument – and I try to stay out of politics on a largely “science-derived” channel. But nothing about it needs to be political. Let me give ya a brief synopsis of what the current Net Neutrality rules dictate, and what this country would look like if the policy was eased back.
In a nutshell, net neutrality refers to our right as occupants of the United States to open and unrestricted networks. In essence, ISPs, or internet service providers, are lawfully bound to provide unrestricted access to all websites deemed lawful in the eyes of the government… basically everything that doesn’t violate U.S. or international law, the rights of others, or the rights of corporations. ISPs are not allowed to choke or cut off your bandwidth to any legal website.
So if WOW, under my current service plan, decided to ignore net neutrality rules, they could reduce my 500mbps download speed to, say, 50mbps, for all competitor sites in my area. We have two ISPs here in Panama City – Xfinity and WOW – so WOW could decide to limit my bandwidth to Xfinity-affiliated websites; basically anything related to NBC. They could even terminate my access to these sites and TV shows if Net Neutrality suddenly vanished.
In 2015, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) classified broadband providers like Verizon, Comcast, CenturyLink, and AT&T as Title II Common Carriers. This means that, in the eyes of common law, ISPs are simply the mediums of exchange – the carriers of information – between the infrastructure (because nobody owns the internet) and the consumer. And it makes sense. Think of it like a mail delivery system. If UPS was assumed to now practice “Mail Neutrality,” they’d deliver packages equally and without bias to those in the same price groups. And they do. Obviously, we have the option to pay more for two-day or overnight shipping, but all Mail Neutrality requires is that those packages shipped within each price bracket be delivered without bias toward particular neighborhoods. The same is true for ISPs under Net Neutrality. I pay about $80/month for cable and 500 megs down. I have friends who pay $60 for cable and 100 megs down. I expect a 500mbps cap when I download content, and my friend expects 100. Simple as that. Net Neutrality Explained But what we don’t expect is to be throttled when we visit sites deemed “less important” or “conflicting” in the eyes of our provider.
One reason Net Neutrality is such a hot-button topic has to do with the limited number of ISPs in given areas of the United States. If you’re watching up to this point in the video, I want you to comment down below with your available internet service providers, and then take a look at a few others. You’ll find that quite a number of people have access to only one or two providers. Without pricing strategies under a competitive model, these monopolies can essentially charge whatever they want for cable. This scene in South Park is has never been more accurate.
If Net Neutrality was repealed or eased back, things online may look very different. And here’s the scarier part: They may look completely different depending on where you live. We rely on open and free access to information. Untampered and uncensored. But if things continue down this road, we may have access to only a couple of news media outlets, local stations, and websites. And since most people are Net Neutrality Explained bound to their current ISP, they won’t have a choice about what they can or can’t see.
I’ll leave you with this: Mr. Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC – spearheading the net neutrality repeal – was previously a Verizon lawyer. Verizon is the second largest internet service provider in the United States. Now I’ve never been a proponent of big government intervention. This touches politics and I’ll stop there, but I’m 100% against Mr. Pai’s argument that repealing Net Neutrality “puts engineers and entrepreneurs, instead of bureaucrats and lawyers, back in charge of the internet.” Despite whatever grip the FCC has on the internet, Net Neutrality has been a good thing. Aren’t you glad certain sites you visit aren’t throttled? What if your local cable company decided to throttle Netflix? Or Hulu? Or… YouTube? If this legislation passes, expect it. Net Neutrality Explained