Net neutrality is one of the hottest topics in the current political climate that applies to everyone in the United States.
As of late November, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai has published his final draft with his plan to get rid of net neutrality and on December 14, Congress will be voting on an iconic bill whether net neutrality will be staying or going.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is what allows users like you or me to be able to access the internet freely with no obstructions on what content we decide to view – albeit the websites that we go on are only the tip of the iceberg of the websites that are actually available to the world without the use of little-known browsers to get into areas like the infamous “dark web.”
And although this seems like it applies to just our desktop computer internet, this carries over into our phones and apps that we use like Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and Messenger.
Abolishing net neutrality makes it so that those services that we access for free have to be paid for through bundles or other premiums in an ISP’s (Internet Service Provider) package.
If the topic of net neutrality being abolished hasn’t scared any of you yet, here are some of the worries.
Right now most ISPs in our area of Orange County charge for the cheapest package about an average of $30 a month. With that includes access to the internet that we all use today at home through a direct ethernet cable or WiFi. Of course, if one desires to have faster internet speeds for things like near-lagless gaming purposes they would be paying a higher premium.
If net neutrality is abolished, not only are you paying the price of the initial premium, you would also have to pay for another premium on top of that to be able to access services we use on a daily basis.
For example, hypothetically if you would want to use Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook, they might be bundled up in an ISP’s “social media package.” You would need to pay not only the premium to get the internet access from ISPs, but you would need to pay another $4.99 to be able to use these services on your phone or desktop computer.
Although it’s not set in stone as to how much ISPs will charge for a basic internet plan or supposed “packages” if net neutrality is abolished, but it can lead to a plethora of added fees that the ISPs are able to control and decide how much they want to charge the consumers. It’s apparent to see how our internet companies can easily line their pockets up with no net neutrality if they choose to not even bundle services and charge an even higher amount for higher broadband usage sites like Netflix or Hulu.
“Netflix and chill” could soon become “Netflix and time for the bill.”
Memes aside, another huge problem with abolishing net neutrality is that ISPs are known “throttle” internet speeds.
What is throttling exactly? To explain this, some ISPs are known to deliberately slow down internet connection speed to certain websites or just slow speed down as a whole referenced by the link just mentioned.
The most common example of throttling is users on Netflix. With a huge audience using Netflix for binge watching comes a lot of traffic on the ISP to use the site. The huge capacity that Netflix has puts a lot of strain on the ISP to deliver proper internet speed for their customers.
With no net neutrality, ISPs could basically threaten websites and apps like Netflix to pay them more money in order for users to be allowed proper internet flow on their service.
If we’re already paying for a premium and promised a set number of megabits per second (Mbps) only for ISPs wanting to throttle our internet speed to stream movies, what speed are we paying for exactly? Throttling internet speed on certain websites is “fake bandwidth”, the ISP equivalent to President Trump’s iconic “fake news.”
Who benefits from no net neutrality?
Though it’s wise to keep net neutrality, there are people that can benefit from abolishing it.
On a personal level, individuals that don’t use commonly used services might not have to pay as much for their internet bill as a person who uses the full experience that the internet has to offer. Those people can easily opt out into not having to pay that hypothetical $4.99 social media bundle if they don’t use Facebook or Snapchat – for example, grandma and grandpa that are still on flip phones and don’t need a data plan that are also inept at using a computer.
The most obvious group that benefits, ISPs greatly benefit from this. ISPs are able to line their pockets up from not only the regular consumer but also from services that we use everyday on our phone and computers – as well as a very good friendship with the FCC.
How can we stop the ban on net neutrality?
Right now, it is up to Congress as to whether or not this bill to get rid of net neutrality will be passed or not. The people can have a voice on the matter but it’s up to the elected officials that people put into lawmaking power to see if they will share that same opinion as the constituents that have voted them in.
If we the people want to protect net neutrality send your elected Congress member an email, and call them. If that’s not good enough and you want to tell commissioner Pai that he’s making a bad decision, here’s a link with a script that you can email to him as well.
It’s imperative that the internet stays neutral and this bill cannot be passed in order for the internet to still be, well, the internet.