On February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility, a milestone in regulating high-speed Internet service into American homes.
What is Net Neutrality? Net neutrality, or Open Internet, is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others. It prohibits ISPs from charging content providers for speedier delivery of their content on “fast lanes” and deliberately slowing the content from content providers that may compete with ISPs.
For examples, let’s say you are stuck with the decision to watch past episodes of The Walking Dead on Hulu or House of Cards on Netflix so you decide to switch back and forth between the two. You notice that the connection speed for House of Cards is faster so you decide to stick with that show. This is because ISPs are able to charge each of companies if they wish to have a faster connection. This can deter consumers from certain brands, as well as drive traffic to other sites.
A monopoly of sorts exists across most States for Internet services. Three-quarters of households have the choice of only one broadband provider while only a quarter have at least two to choose from. The figure to the left shows the share of homes with broadband providers available at each speed.
The recent ruling is one step into making net neutrality a reality. Net Neutrality is critical for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs that rely on the Internet to launch their businesses, advertise their products, and distribute products to customers. Net Neutrality allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive on the Internet by reaching new customers and showcasing their products and services.
Since ISPs serve as gatekeepers to the Internet, and without net neutrality, they will continue to capitalize on the opportunity to profit from this control. No company should be able to interfere with the open market, especially as a monopoly exists in most states for internet services, as the above data shows. As a consumer, I should have the ultimate decision on what I decide to watch. I should not be manipulated into watching or visiting one site because that site paid the ISP for a faster connection versus their competitor.
What do you think net neutrality will mean for consumers?