Net Neutrality no longer exists. On December 14th, 2017 the F.C.C. (Federal Communications Commission) repealed the Net Neutrality which regulated internet service providers to ensure equality between all internet services. In effect, this means that the agency no longer puts restrictions on internet service providers, which gives those providers the ability to charge more to certain internet based companies. This can create a trickle down effect to corporations and ultimately consumers. The question is whether or not this could be a problem for the average consumer. The answer is not so simple.
It absolutely could be problematic, but there is no proof of it being an issue. The resolution is some good old fashioned capitalism. It’s good to be informed on how this this can affect you. There seems to be lots of speculation about the consequences of repealing the bill, but it’s important to know what Net Neutrality actually did.
What Net Neutrality is
Net Neutrality was introduced during the Obama administration. The principle is that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. This is a good thing for small businesses and consumers or at least it appears to protect everyone’s best interests.
A company like Netflix, for example, grosses a lot of money for their internet service provider. Hypothetically, this could cause a provider to favor Netflix by giving more bandwidth to consumers while they stream Netflix. This has the potential to make it slower for other companies that use the same provider. There are other negative implications such as a higher cost to startup companies. There are only a handful of internet service providers in the entire country, making it a some-what “monopoly” between the giants.
What was repealed
The ground rules for the bill provided that broadband service was considered a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, which gave the F.C.C. control over internet providers. It banned any of the following:
Paid Prioritization: Internet service providers could not create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who pay premiums, and a slow lane for those who don’t.
Blocking: Internet service providers could not discriminate against any lawful content by blocking websites or apps.
Throttling: Internet service providers could not slow the transmission of data based on the nature of the content, as long as it is legal.
What it all means
Without the F.C.C. these changes could potentially have huge negative impacts to the average consumer and small businesses. If there are only negative consequences, then why was the Net Neutrality repealed?
Now providers have flexibility to offer different plans such as offering more zero-rated deals. This will allow companies to give away content for free without it counting against a customer’s monthly data cap. Another potential business model would let a broadband provider give priority to a medical application or to services like those enabling self-driving cars. Besides, now consumers actually have a voice for what services that they want more of and what services they don’t. For now, the only real way to discover the true implications of this is time.