The Blue and Gold

Net Neutrality: What’s the Deal?

Aditya Kishore, Author/Editor

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Net neutrality and its pending repeal is a hot topic. Propaganda is flying from both sides of the debate, with some saying net neutrality will “free the internet,” and others saying it will “destroy the internet.” So, who’s correct? In reality, the answer is closer to the latter, as opposed to the former. But to understand this, one must first grasp exactly what net neutrality is. Net neutrality, at its essence, places severe restrictions on what internet service providers (such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) can add a paywall to or block altogether. These internet service providers (ISPs) are not allowed to charge people for faster internet, or block certain websites, based on business opportunities.  If the protection of net neutrality is removed, any ISP could then take advantage of the general population.

 

This is the reason the now-pending net neutrality repeal is opposed by  a large percentage of the  population. Only ISPs stand to benefit from this bill, and they would do this by exploiting Americans’ need for internet access. Unfortunately, the repeal has already been passed through the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), despite a very low public acceptance rate. However, there might still be hope; Congress has forced a vote regarding net neutrality, and there’s various lawsuits challenging whether the repeal is Constitutional. However, neither method is likely to be our savior. Any bill passed by Congress would need the seal of approval from President Trump in order to take effect, and the Supreme Court holds Trump appointee Neil Gorusch, as well as various Trump-supporting judges. Mr. Trump is an avid supporter of net neutrality’s repeal. Therefore, it is most likely the pending repeal of net neutrality will go through.

So what would a possible net neutrality repeal look like? Contrary to popular belief, it would not mean that sites such as Youtube and Facebook would be blocked, for this would create such backlash that an ISP attempting would immediately see severe loss in profits. What it could mean, however, is a tiered internet. This means companies will charge extra for ‘high-speed’ internet. A ‘basic’ package would offer ridiculously slow internet. This will be an issue in areas where there is only one ISP choice, because the slow internet will be a killer for people who can’t afford a ‘high-speed’ package. ISP companies would potentially speed up their own and affiliated sites, and websites that pay extra to speed up their site in basic packages. Therefore, the repeal is a killer for small businesses, who will have to pay exorbitant fees to keep their sites on the high-speed track. Big companies can afford to pay, but small companies will be faced with a tough choice: surrender an advantage to competition, or risk losing profits.

One can clearly establish, then, that the net neutrality repeal is simultaneously disastrous for the internet yet unavoidable. Is there anything we can do to help? Not really. Net neutrality will be repealed and it will be bad for the internet. However, to minimize the damage, we should take away our business from companies that violate our internet rights. Those of us in a position to readily switch ISP’s have both a responsibility and a reason to shun those ISP’s that will inevitably overstep their boundaries and block or slow our favorite sites. Without the profits of their customers, the Comcasts and Time Warners of the world will back off and America will be spared from the brunt of the damage caused by net neutrality’s ill-planned repeal.

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