Net Neutrality–The Bigger Picture

imageThere is a lot of news and reports flying through cyberspace and traditional media sources about Net Neutrality. If you have been living under a rock or for whatever reason you don’t know. Net Neutrality is the basic principle that Internet Service Providers or ISPs should give equal access to content on the Internet. Already we see the big ISPs changing the way we access content.

Net Neutrality if allowed to be implemented by the FCC and done right could help consumers and content providers. However, currently the FCC has limited ability to enforce such regulations, hence why we are seeing a bunch of smoke from Tom Wheeler. Wheeler is gathering consumer input on Net Neutrality with the intent to bring suggestions to Congress to vote on whether to enact new laws.

Currently, big ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast have made it clear they are looking to bring what they have learned from Cable operators to the Internet. This change has been in the works for years. It started with ISPs  implementing bandwidth caps. Consumers quickly found themselves unable to truly enjoy the content in the quantity they were used too without being charged heavy fees. Now a new idea they have begin is charging content providers/ businesses more money to get better speeds to their customers. If the business does not comply, the consumer get’s the short end of the stick. ISPs are quick to claim this is not their practice, yet take a look at Netflix.

Netflix has been at the center of this controversy, they found themselves in a position of pay more for the fast lane to the customer or lose the customer because the slow lane provided the consumer with low quality that was in many cases unwatchable. Ask yourself, why did the quality rapidly degrade? Could it be the ISPs or too many users using Netflix. While the latter could make an impact, when Netflix starting paying more for those fast lanes- fewer user had issues.

Net Neutrality is set to fix this problem, but often not discussed is the bandwidth caps that plague many consumers. ISPs are forcing consumers to limit content consumption at a time in history when more and more devices and services rely on the Internet. For example: I have a 150GB Cap with AT&T. What that means is that I can no longer watch Netflix on a regular basis or download games to my Xbox One or 360. Many games are 40GB+ in size that is 3 games and I’m in trouble. Add Netflix HD streaming approximately 3GB per hour of content and we are hurting.

Net Neutrality could the only thing standing in the way of progress and freedom online. How does that affect you? At the current rate of ISP interference with no Net Neutrality laws this may mean you will not have access to certain websites, because they won’t pay your ISP more money. It may mean certain websites will be much slower loading, because they won’t pay your ISP more money. It also means you may have to pay more to get better access to services like Netflix. Netflix pays the ISPs (all of them a large sum) that cost will eventually be passed on to you, the consumer. It also means your ISP can get away with finding new ways to increase your monthly bill.

What I suggest is that we set firm rules for Net Neutrality to ensure everyone has equal access to all legal content and prevent ISPS from robbing consumers with usage and bandwidth caps. After all if we don’t remove bandwidth caps, the ISPs will still have a way of controlling consumers and Net Neutrality will barely have made a dent. Net Neutrality should also effect Mobile Carriers. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below. 

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