On June 11, 2018 the net neutrality laws repeal went into effect by the Federal Communications Commission. This will now give internet providers, like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T free reign to throttle speeds and block websites as they see fit. This also allows them to create internet fast lanes.
A lot of people still do not understand net neutrality. Why it is important? Here the key points you need to 10understand.
1. The Internet Could Become Like Cable TV
This is the easiest way to explain net neutrality. If you have had cable TV, then you understand that many cable providers will force you to pay extra for hundreds of channels you do not want, just so you can have HBO or Starz or some premium sport channel.
Internet services providers can now adopt a similar business model. Providers can now block Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Instagram, etc. if they like. You want access to those services? Then you need to pay for an internet package that includes those services. For example:
- Social Services Basic – $20/month – Includes access to Snapchat, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare
- Social Services Plus – $60/month – Includes access Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit and all services in Social Services Basic
- Streaming Services Basic – $30/month – Includes access to Sling TV, Pluto, LiveLeak
- Streaming Services Plus – $80/month – Includes access Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and all services in Streaming Services Basic
Note: Packages only allow customer to reach services. Customer still needs paid subscription to access the service, if applicable.
2. The Internet is a necessity, like electricity and water.
You might not physically need the internet to survive, but for most of us it’s become an absolute necessity. We rely on the internet for work, to communicate with family and friends, and to organize our lives.
Just like electricity, natural gas, sewage and water, the internet has become an necessity in everyday life. Companies and people rely on the internet for communications, organizations, automation, and work.
Internet services providers, the majority of them, are companies that care about profits, not you. Everyone has the basic right to water, electricity, and natural gas at their homes. Because of this there are regulations for the price of those utilities. Given the importance of the internet, it has become a utility as well, shouldn’t it be regulated like the rest of our utilities? Control should not be with companies that are more concerned about their profit margins.
3. Protections from Online Censorship
The one key point of net neutrality is that it stopped internet providers from blocking websites the provider disagreed with. Since the repeal of net neutrality, internet providers can censor anything on the internet they like.
When censorship is in place, this can slow innovation. AT&T had Apple blocking VOIP services because they did not want users using more data to make phone calls customer otherwise could not make, like international calls. Internet providers could also censor websites that compete with any of the media properties they own. Or they could censor websites that review their service poorly.
4. Internet Investments increased since 2015’s Net Neutrality Laws
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai makes statements all the time that the 2015 Net Neutrality laws stifle innovation and made it hard for companies to invest in their internet infrastructure. The FCC’s repeal is in direct response to those statements.
Here’s the problem with Ajit’s statements, Free Press had reported that investments for internet infrastructure have indeed increased since 2015. The report shows that internet services providers had spent more money expanding their networks since the Net Neutrality laws than any of the years prior to those laws. Even the majority of internet providers saw their revenues increase, outpacing the U.S. economy revenue growth rate.
The point is Ajut’s statements are flat out lies. The net neutrality laws gave internet providers clear standards they needed to meet.
5. Net Neutrality Did Not Start With Obama
Obama may have been president with the 2015 net neutrality laws were passed. Net Neutrality practices and laws started development back in 2003. An example of this was when rural phone company made an attempt to block customers from using Vonage to make phone calls. This company received a fine from the FCC for anti-competitive behavior.
It’s because of this that Ajit Pai and Donald Trump are not destroying something Obama did, but something that has been growing, for over a decade, into the free and open internet we all rely on.