The Importance of Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality forbids internet service providers like
Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from governing the speed of the internet or preventing
access to any content that you want to use. The internet as we know it exists
because of Net Neutrality and it protects our rights to freedom of information
online. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that
keep this freedom in place and allow us to access any information without
intrusion. On December 14, 2017, the FCC approved a plan submitted by chairman
Ajit Pai to pull apart and tear down the Net Neutrality rules.
If this is adopted by Congress, internet service providers
may be free to block content or show preferential treatment to their preferred
partners. For instance, AT&T now allows customers access to Direct TV which
it owns and does not count the data used as part of their customer’s data plan.
It allows free data for certain services and restrictions for others. This
means “unlimited” data plans are superimposed with hidden restrictions. It is
the quality of the streaming video that they are controlling, allowing
unlimited access to 480p and 720p resolution, but when it comes to anything
higher, your data usage starts racking up at the speed of light. This higher
quality video can quickly use up your 1 terabyte data cap, and the company gets
to charge you an additional $50 per month. 4K televisions are becoming the
norm; these TVs require videos to be played at higher resolution, which
requires more data. To avoid overage charges, you are forced to subscribe to an
upgraded plan. This means your internet bill is going to look more like your
mobile data plan charges. Yikes!
The average consumer may not understand the nuances of net
neutrality, but they do know they have the right to uninhibited access to the
internet. It seems like a simple decision. Large telecom corporations already
have seemingly limitless power. Allowing them free reign over our access to technology
will only make it more difficult for smaller and newer companies to participate
in the market and prevent the progress of innovation.
Compared with taxes, sexual misconduct, and healthcare, the
death of net neutrality may not experience much of the limelight. However, it
certainly needs to take a place on the stage with all the other issues that
include lying to the American people and putting more money in the pockets of
the already wealthy and powerful.
Broadband companies will probably want to avoid any negative
attention in order to prevent lawmakers the justification to make new net
neutrality laws. The only good news is that the internet can’t change overnight
and there is still a chance to act. Most of the large broadband companies will
probably wait to see how these challenges play out. It is even a possibility
that if there is enough public pressure, Congress may be forced to pass new,
stronger net neutrality laws.
The overwhelming support of the public, and of the smaller
broadband companies, will carry this fight to the marketplace rather than the
courtroom. There are already some companies pledging not to control our
internet experience, and the customers are showing their support by changing to
these companies. Hopefully, this will
force Congress to use a “resolution of disapproval” and keep net neutrality in