In 2015, millions of activists forced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt Net Neutrality rules. These keep the internet free and open for anyone to share and access information without interference.
In May 2017, the FCC has voted in favor of a proposal by Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai. The proposal is to review existing rules around net neutrality. The proposal would end the classification of Internet service providers as common carriers. By classifying ISPs as common carriers, Title Two (of the Communications Act of 1934) subjects ISPs to some rules.
These rules prohibit carriers from speeding up or slowing down specific content on their networks. People in favor of the change, claim that such restrictions have hindered investment across the telecom industry. Opponents say that removing regulations would harm businesses that may not be able to pay the prices.
What is Net Neutrality
Net neutrality means that all the content moving across the network are given equal transmission priority. It prohibits the ISPs from speeding up, slowing down or blocking certain contents. It preserves our right to communicate freely as we browse through web pages on the internet.
In essence, The Internet is one giant computer network. All content, from texts, emails, web pages or the online video games transmitted across it, is first broken into computer packets. Net neutrality explained in simpler terms is “Except congestion or equipment failure, every packet has an equal chance of reaching its destination at the same speed.”
Net Neutrality: Pros and Cons
Major tech companies have lined up on opposing sides. Companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix support net neutrality, while the Internet service providers (ISPs) including Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T have raised voices against it.
Everyone argues that their position will promote economic growth and won’t hamper innovation. While the debate is going on who should control the flow of data on the Internet, let’s have a look at pros and cons to see if net neutrality is good or bad.
• ISPs cannot block access or slow data just because they don’t like it.
• Big companies or the freelancers, everyone has got the same access and equal rights to share ideas. Thus, it helps innovation.
• It gives everyone, the freedom of expression.
• Enormous amounts of data are consumed free of cost on the infrastructure created and maintained by the ISPs.
• Questionable contents are readily available on the Internet.
Arguments for Net Neutrality
The internet has allowed for many entrepreneurs to build successful businesses. Without the freedom and open sharing network that is existent today Yahoo, Facebook or Netflix could not have emerged. And the network services would have been reserved only for those wealthy enough to pay.
People argue that innovative products and technologies are born every day because of the internet being neutral. Every entrepreneur has the opportunity to get started with its services in this large free market.
A ‘slow lane’ internet with priority to paying clients would destroy the online services. With the usage controlled by the ISPs, new companies would have a hard time getting their ideas to the mass audience. If streaming sites start paying ISPs to deliver their services, they will charge the customers more. This situation may lead to a rise in the cost of services.
Arguments against Net Neutrality
The ISPs say not all content is created equal. Live streaming the Super Bowl from NBC would need more bandwidth and network resources than all trying to load a simple website.
And it’s fair to allow the ISPs to charge content creators (such as NBC) based on the bandwidth they consume (or how fast they want to deliver the content). They would use this added income to upgrade the infrastructure.
If they could charge clients more, ISPs may be more motivated to develop faster service. This would lead to growing competition and thus better services. And also, increase in revenues would see an increase in tax collections.
VPNs and Net Neutrality
VPNs have helped citizens by unblocking contents that are restricted in your region. A VPN service provider geo-shifts your location to another country. The traffic on slow lanes would pile up, and a VPN can help you get around some of that congestion. Also, they encrypt your content, and the ISP would not be able to throttle (or slow down) the transfer by inspecting the packets.
If you haven’t done yet, set up a VPN now. You can use best free VPN service, but paid service like ExpressVPN or NordVPN would be best. They are counted among the best VPN service providers and have many servers around the world.