Reading09: The Sky is a Neighborhood

Net Neutrality is a very broad term that essential has three components. First is the idea of blocking, that Internet Service Providers, ISP, cannot discriminate against lawful content by blocking websites or apps. This is essentially saying that the ISPs is restricted from creating a service similar to cable tv, where channels have to pay the cable provider in order to carry the channels and as such the providers essentially control what channels are able to be shown to the public. This makes sure that so long as the website is legal, the ISP cannot stop a consumer from getting to a website simply because the website is not paying the ISP. Second is the idea of throttling, ISPs cannot slow the transmission of data because of the nature of the content so long as that content is lawful. Essentially the ISPs cannot favor certain content over another, they cannot let’s say slow data transmission for video streaming data, while allowing text data to be loaded at full speed. Finally is the idea of paid prioritization, the idea that an “internet fast lane” could be created by ISPs that allow certain websites that pay for it to have faster data transmission simply because they paid for it. In other words, if facebook and google pay for faster data streaming but netflix does not, theoretically facebook and google would load faster than netflix. There are many arguments for and against Net Neutrality. Those that argue that Net Neutrality is a positive focus on the internet being free for all websites and apps an for this reason allowing these websites and apps to innovate more. They argue that if bigger companies had to pay for an “internet fast lane” they would then have less money to spend on innovation. Supporters also argue that with net neutrality repealed start ups would have a more difficult time competing with larger companies because where larger companies could probably afford to pay for faster internet access while startups could not. Those that argue for Net Neutrality argue that if ISPs were able to charge for “internet fast lanes,” they would then be able to improve their networks and also then improve competition within the industry. Currently there is a limited amount of competition within the ISPs most simply have relatively low data transfer rates and no competition in geographic areas. Without Net Neutrality, there would be more options for competition in the market. For this reason I am against Net Neutrality. While the idea of a free and open internet sounds like a wonderful idea, the internet is at the current moment still only accessible through private businesses. The United States has relatively low internet speeds, largely due to a lack of competition in the ISP industry. Without Net Neutrality there would be more competition and more reason for innovation within the ISP industry. Also, the argument that the average consumer would experience a difference because of a lack of Net Neutrality. Most of the websites most people use every day are owned by large businesses and as such would be able to pay for the faster internet lane. Also the idea that startups would be limited by increased prices is possible, it could also just be seen as another expense for the start up, just like how a nice building could be another expense if the startup were a brick and mortar store. That said the idea of totally blocking websites and creating an a le carte internet is frightening. For this reason I think the FCC should to a large degree not have net neutrality, but also not allow ISPs to create an internet like cable channels. That is to a large degree the beauty of the internet, that even if it takes forever to load we are able to access the entirety of the internet. Thus while not necessarily creating a totally even playing field, the government should ensure people the ability to access the entire internet.