Using the internet has become so commonplace that people often take for granted the web access that we receive. The FCC’s proposed changes to Net Neutrality have the ability to change the internet as we know it. It has quite a few people in (and out) of the tech world pretty upset. If the FCC allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to implement pay to play techniques, then small businesses will never have equal footing on the internet and large companies with money will dominate the information that every one of us can receive on the internet.
A majority of the controversy is centered around the fact that these proposed changes will allow ISPs to charge companies (like Netflix) for faster access to their sites. These are being referred to as “fast lanes”.
Here’s what Save the Internet has to say about it:
“The biggest cable and telephone companies would like to charge money for smooth access to Web sites, speed to run applications, and permission to plug in devices. These network giants believe they should be able to charge […] for the right to use the network. Those who don’t make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination: Their sites won’t load as quickly, and their applications and devices won’t work as well. […] Consumers could find that a network operator has blocked the Web site of a competitor, or slowed it down so much that it’s unusable.”
The FCC has voted to approve this proposal and there is now a 120-day period where people can express their opinions of the plan before the FCC meets again to make a final decision.
So, let’s backtrack.
How does the internet work right now and what exactly is Net Neutrality?
As it stands currently, accessing information around the internet is treated the same. No matter what site you are visiting, the data is all flowing at the same speed and no company or traffic gets preferential treatment. All sites are created equal, all traffic is deemed equal, and this is known as net neutrality.
What are these proposed changes?
The Nation explains the changes as follows:
“The FCC’s proposed rule […] leave[s] the door open for content creators to pay to get faster service. Internet service providers have been considering arrangements like this for some time. In these agreements, ISPs like Verizon or AT&T would approach companies like Netflix or Facebook and say, “We’ll give your users faster access to your website if you pay us a fee.” The proposal would create a fast lane for content creators who can afford to “pay to play,” while keeping a slower lane for sites that can’t afford to make such agreements.”
How will these changes affect you?
This provides a huge disadvantage for startups and small businesses who can’t afford to “pay to play”. If you have a start up or a small business, this will affect you negatively.
You may have to pay more for services (like Netflix) because they will be paying more to ISPs to share their content faster. Their cost goes up, so your cost goes up.
The internet may start to look more like cable television where a handful of the larger ISPs will be acting as gatekeepers who decide what speed and content reaches consumers.
As a huge proponent for Net Neutrality, it’s important for us to get the message out that this will affect everyone who uses the internet. The information you receive on your browser will be controlled by your ISP. Whoever pays them the most money is whose content they will serve up the fastest.
[Queue the Drama] Yes, the sky is falling…
Here is a great video that explains the entire controversy from beginning to end:
So, what can you do?
Let the FCC know how you feel about its proposal – post a comment here
Current deadline for comments is July 15, 2014 with reply comments ending September 15.
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