Do you want to pay more for your internet service? That is what will happen if the FCC’s proposed “Net Neutrality” rules pass. I put the words Net Neutrality in quotes, because the FCC’s plan isn’t the Net Neutrality we need or have been promised numerous times.
Net Neutrality – and the internet as we know it – protects consumers from ISPs slowing down, degrading, and even blocking online content and access. If there’s a service out there, and your internet provider provides a competing service, Net Neutrality protects us consumers from your internet provider slowing down, degrading, or even blocking that competing service. If you don’t think this matters, Comcast is currently in talks to buy Time Warner Cable, and expand their market share of broadband services further. Comcast also has video on demand services and owns NBC. Imagine Comcast now degrading Netflix or Amazon Prime to the point its unwatchable, just so you have to use their service. Speeds already are being played with by internet providers.
Think you can go elsewhere and this is what competition is for? Well, over 70% of all Americans have only one choice when it comes to internet service.
The idea of Net Neutrality is to keep the internet a free and open platform for innovation and expression.
The FCC’s rules lays out three things:
- That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network;
- That no legal content may be blocked; and
- That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.
That’s all great, but the FCC is also giving permission for internet service providers to create fast and slow lanes of the internet. Instead of blocking or degrading like I described above, instead, ISPs will force content producers to pay up, or be relegated to the slow lane. Of course those ISPs who have their own content will make sure their offerings are always the best they can be. That’s a two-tiered internet, and those costs, will be shouldered and passed along to consumers. Be prepared to pay more for your internet services. Generally, the United States already pays more, for slower internet, than the rest of the world.
How will this impact the “geek” community? We’ll wind up paying more for streaming video, and see our download speeds decreased. Our video game experience will lag, unless someone pays up. Basically, things will get slower, and unusable. It’s not just us consumers who should care about this. Content providers need to stand up too, or they’ll be
extorted forced asked to pay to deliver their content at reasonable speeds.
So what can we do? We’ve stopped legislation before when the “internet” has come together. Speak out now through this action that the Entertainment Consumers Association has put together. You’ll be able to let your members of Congress, the President, and the FCC know how you stand on the issue.
If this passes, the definition of an “open internet” is, the more you pay up, the more open it can get. It will be a death knell for Net Neutrality, online innovation, and our experience as consumers.
Disclosure: I consult for the Entertainment Consumers Association but was not paid for this post