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, or websites that you want to use.
Net Neutrality is what we are all used to, 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 a month. 4k televisions are becoming more and more common so, to avoid the extra 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.
Let’s not allow large telecom corporations more control than they already have. It will only make it more difficult for smaller and newer companies to participate in the market and prevent the progress of innovation. It really isn’t a question of will come up as an issue in 2018, but how big of an issue, and how much attention will it get. Compared with taxes, sexual misconduct, and healthcare, it 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, instead of the courtroom. Already there are 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 place.