Most of us are probably asking, “what the hell is net neutrality anyway?” Here is a short breakdown of what it means and why it matters.
The internet is made possible by ISPs (internet service providers) and content companies. Netflix and Hulu are content companies. In their case, the content is video. ISPs pave the road of the internet and content companies use them to truck their services across the web.
Currently, ISPs treat all content providers equally. YouTube videos stream just as fast as Hulu videos. Every content provider is bound to the same speed limit. This speed limit is the foundation of net neutrality.
Net neutrality demands that all content is bound by the same speed limit.
Opposers of net neutrality believe that they should be given preferential treatment. They want the ISPs to make a private high speed toll road to deliver their content faster.
The toll for these high-speed lanes will not be cheap and an increased cost at the top will result in an increased price at the bottom. This means that if net neutrality is abolished, you’ll be paying more for the same services you already receive. If net neutrality is removed, you pay the price.
Aside from individuals, small businesses will suffer too. If a business can’t pay for a fast lane, it has to function at a slower speed. While Netflix is gliding down the fast lane, these small businesses will be choking in the gridlocked web traffic with everyone else who can’t afford to pay for preferential treatment. When Netflix streams a TV show twice as fast as Hulu, nobody is going to wait twice as long as they have to. This will create a mass exodus to the content providers using this fast lane.
By restricting small businesses with this two-tiered system, we are putting our internet content in the hands of a select few.
A world without net neutrality is a world where the natural democracy of the internet is up for purchase. Internet traffic will be concentrated into a handful of companies that can afford to do business in the fast lane. Imagine the implications if three companies dominated everything on the internet.
The internet is a rarity in that it’s a decentralized technology. We all have relatively equal access to it and no one owns it, yet. For the freedom of the internet to be preserved, neutrality is a must.