Friday, May 19, 2017

Net Neutrality

As part of the Republicans march to eliminate every regulation that big business opposes, we move to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They are about to eliminate one of the pillars of the open internet. A practice that has been in place since the inception of the internet.

That pillar is net neutrality. Many people have no idea what that means or how it affects then. Simply put, internet providers like your cable or phone company can not discriminate against or favor any content. They can't charge more or less for providing Netflix over a local startup content. They also can't throttle or favor one content provider or website over another. All traffic is treated the same. 

The technicalities are more complicated, but once the content is on the backbone internet, it is all treated exactly the same. Getting the traffic onto or off of the backbone is where different levels of service have always been allowed although. It is the "last mile" or last 50 ft. or the cell network that we pay for. Netflix and Google have a need to dump mass quantities of data onto the internet backbone, so they have huge and numerous network pipes to do that. On the other hand, I have a TV, phone, tablet and PC which don't require huge bandwidth so I pay less for my connection. 

I realize that this is a technical issue and most people don't understand or care about the issue. You will care once net neutrality is eliminated. Internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner and others will be able to discriminate. They can charge more, prioritize, throttle or maybe even refuse content. An example would be Netflix. Many of the big internet providers also provide content that is delivered over their infrastructure. Either their own or on their cable/satellite TV services. So, they give priority to their own content and provide it for free. Netflix content get's throttled unless they pay a ransom. Netflix will pass that increased cost onto its customers. Will the internet providers reduce your cost because Netflix or YouTube are paying more? Of course not. 

There are other potential problems. Small startup companies may not be able to pay extra or may not get volume discounts to be able to compete with the big boys. 

Net neutrality gives everybody a chance. The big guys and the small fry. It's elimination only favors the big internet service providers. It is a typical Republican deregulation move. The big corporations profit and the consumers pay. The FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a former Associate General Counsel for Verizon. One of the companies that will profit from the elimination of net neutrality regulations. Enough said. 


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