Net neutrality - the principle that internet service providers must 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.
February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified broadband as a Title II communication service. This vote classified ISP’s as “common carriers”, no longer “information providers” in a tight 3-2 vote. A common carrier cannot refuse to transport goods or service as it holds itself out to provide its service to the general public without discrimination. December 14, 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal these policies.
Net neutrality has long been a battle between behemoths. Tech startups Google, Netflix, Facebook, and the like, versus the ISP’s. If this repeal goes into full effect odds are internet giants will feel little change. The question is now this, what is going to change for small businesses, and most importantly, what could change for you and me?
The FCC and ISP’s argue this is opening up internet freedom and the repeal will ultimately create more competition. On the other hand the tech startups, small business, and many academics argue this will restrict the internet more than ever. As consumers we could start to see internet packages, i.e. paying $5 for access a social media package which grants you access to Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. You want to access The Washington Post? That’s part of another package. Content could be slowed, throttled, or even blocked based solely on your ISP’s relationship with the content provider. Internet fast lanes could open up so that users who pay more browse faster.
Before we dive any deeper I want to be clear that this is speculative and based purely on predictions of experts.
With that in mind why don't we take a start at a very simple but important question, how will this effect how much internet services cost? One major argument for repealing net neutrality is the idea that deregulation will stimulate competition. Our internet access, packages, and speeds are all dependent on what infrastructure is available to us.
According to arstechnica.com, 50 million homes have access to only one provider with 25Mbps internet speeds.
Don't take it from me, listen to 20+ academics, broadband companies, industry analysts, and non-profits that Quartz polled on the topic.
Or the 12 experts thats phys.org polled.
Lastly, here is what analysts polled by futurism.com had to say.