CAIRO – 16 December 2017: On December 14, the United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the net neutrality rules it put into affected in 2015, the internet has been in an uproar since. So what is net neutrality and why is it important?
It is important to note the recent ruling affects Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and consumers in the United States, with a contained trickle-down effect on the rest of the world. Each country has its own net neutrality laws and current outrage is regarding US laws.
Net neutrality demands that all web traffic is treated the same by ISPs. That they do not slow down or speed up traffic based on criteria of content, payment or competition. ISPs could not charge companies like Netflix and YouTube more for larger bandwidth due to high-traffic nature of their content.
Laws on net neutrality took effect in 2015. Since 2005, the FCC decided that ISPs were not common carriers like telephone companies and stopped regulating them, leading to monopolies in the industry: Verizon, Comcast and AT&T. Internet, in the US, was largely unregulated.
Now ISPs can implement “fast lanes” and “slow lanes,” forcing companies like Netflix and YouTube to pay more to keep their service speed up, allowing large corporations to dominate internet traffic, stifling innovation and competition from smaller companies.
Consequences for consumers range from paying more to browse popular websites, decrease in streaming quality for companies that can not afford the premium “fast lanes,” companies potentially blocking competitor’s content and of course, a trickle down costs of companies having to pay more to keep high quality services.