Net Neutrality: What Is It and Why You Are Going To Miss It
Net Neutrality: The Basics; ISP's deliver all Internet traffic equally.
That is the very basis of Net Neutrality. As it stands today I, you and practically everyone else who uses the Internet will pay their ISP (Internet Service Provider) for the service of receiving access to the Internet. When you have access you have access to everything the Internet has to offer. Freedom to choose what you go on, when you go on it and how often you do.
ISPs do have their own terms to the service and there is a difference in how much you pay for the service. It has many factors; the speed of your connection, the monthly download limit, extras like roaming Internet connection. These have a impact on how much you pay for your Internet connection. But, the fundamental basis for the Internet stays the same, you pay for the Internet you get the Internet.
The Internet is a fantastic way to get your information. Gone are the days where you had to hunt and find this particular specific book to get your answers, a simple question into a search engine and you get what you are looking for and more. Your search-engine results will provide you with the direct answer and a challenge or critique to that answer. And from so many sources, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica Online, the Internet Public Library are some of the many many MANY ways for you to get information. All with your simple connection fee with your ISP.
Using video and entertainment as a basis for your Internet usage also has the same effect. YouTube, BBC I Player, NetFlix and Steam providing you with content that is inclusive with your connection fee.
Like I said, you pay for the Internet you get the Internet.
So What Is The Problem?
Now this ease of access and simplicity in consumer understanding has proved a bit of a problem with entertainment utility companies, for example Sky or Verizon. Their services is run from a "cable" or subscription style of provision. For instance, you take Sky, a company that provides a television service. You buy a basic service which you get some of the basic channels. If you want the movie channels you have to pay extra to receive the movie channels and pay extra if you want the sports channels. This is what I will call a "Cable Subscription Service", a multi-tiered subscription service.
What Is Being Changed?
America is leading the way to abandon this notion of Net Neutrality. Currently there are mergers and deals getting done between Time Warner and Comcast, if successful, this will create a massive ISP that will tie together Comcast Corporation, which is not only the biggest cable company in the U.S., it is also the largest media provider in the world, with Time Warner Cable, the second largest cable company in the country.
This merger will be extremely concerning to any reasonable person with respect to the effects of non-competition on Internet and cable customers, as it will likely diminish what is already minimal competition for high-speed Internet access.
The merger then will create an end-game of Net Neutrality for customers. The result will be that without competition the ISP will overly inflate their pricing and offer you a subscription package, just like the Cable Subscription Service.
Hypothetically it will look like this:
What Are The Dangers?
There are many dangers on many levels if Net Neutrality bites the dust. One of the biggest headaches for me personally is that information will become more expensive to access. Paying more money to the co-operations to access content designed to be free will be a major stumbling block for the consumer and the innovator of its content.
For instance you will be throttled for not using "approved" content. A news carrier not on their list of "News Subscription" could then be used as either a black-listed website, in this case you will not be allowed access or used in another packages, forcing you to buy more subscriptions to access content by their own definitions.
Can you imagine how many modern day internet companies would have fared in a world without Internet neutrality? How successful would Facebook or Twitter have become?
The UK also is not immune to this also. BT, British Telecom is the biggest ISP in the UK. What is there to stop BT from moving into this subscription based system. Could you move to another ISP? Why yes you can, but... Every other ISP uses infrastructure under BT. This infrastructure is run by OpenReach, an arm of BT. It is OpenReach that provides other companies access to the infrastructure.
With a two tiered Internet, BT would have supreme bandwidth while capping or excessively charging other companies to use their infrastructure. The U.S. is currently seeing this, Comcast is charging Netflix to use their infrastructure.
Of course this is just a hypothetical for the UK, but the result will remain the same, less options for the consumer and even less for innovation.