Net neutrality affects every single facet of the internet. A lot of people don’t understand what net neutrality is so I want to explain it and then identify why it’s necessary. Net neutrality is the idea that every site on the internet has the same ability to be seen regardless of which internet service provider you use to see it. It also says that no site should have the ability to be seen faster than another one when using a certain internet service provider. Basically what I just described above is exactly how the internet currently works. Why then is something like net neutrality important? Simply put – the internet service providers want more money.
Let me give you an example of what could happen without legislation for net neutrality. Google pays Verizon several billion dollars to ensure that Verizon gives all YouTube videos (Google owns YouTube) a faster connection to users. That sounds ok, right? But what if you don’t use Verizon as your internet service provider? In fact, what if it isn’t even available in your area? Well that’s too bad because another video service comes along (say Facebook for example) and pays money to AT&T and Comcast (both of which are the service providers in your area) to make their videos much faster than YouTube. YouTube videos will run significantly slower or maybe they won’t load at all. It just depends on how much Facebook pays AT&T and Comcast.
How about this scenario? A future Comcast advertisement reads, “$39.99/month for unlimited internet access including access to NBC’s hit shows on NBC.com.” In small print the ad says that abc.com, Hulu.com and cbs.com are not available through Comcast’s internet service. Do you see what happened? Because there is no net neutrality legislation and NBC is owned by Comcast, they decided to simply block competing networks on their internet service. You might say, well if that was the case I would just use another internet service provider. Not so fast, many people in the nation have very few options when it comes to internet service providers and once Comcast does it with NBC, how long would it take for ABC to set up a similar alliance with AT&T or another ISP to block NBC.com?
Another scenario – you start a small online video company. You have a killer idea that allows users to share their videos in a whole new way. Unfortunately, the buy-in to the major internet service providers (you know, in order to be seen or have similar speeds to your competition) is 10 million dollars. You are just a start up without the ability to raise money so unfortunately your product fails and one of the big company’s simply picks up your killer idea and uses it on their own service. You lose.
These things are not currently happening but without legislation, just wait – they assuredly will. There is only one thing that drives companies like AT&T and Comcast – shareholders. And the only thing they care about is profits, not an open and neutral internet. If you think for a second that this stuff can’t happen and it won’t happen, wake up. It will happen unless we prevent it. Go check out net neutrality’s lobbying site and sign up and take a stance against the huge internet service providers. Seriously, they would just love to screw you and the internet. Take a stance and make sure that doesn’t happen before it is too late.