You have probably heard the term “Net Neutrality” and mabye didn’t understand what it meant. I’m going to explain as simply as possible and leave it to you to read up more on it to decide if my explanation is correct. Simply put, Net Neutrality means that every site on the Internet is treated equally. In practice it means that traffic to CNN does not get preference over traffic to the local library web site. Changes are in the pipeline that will change the way traffic flows on the Internet. The system will be rigged to favor the big boys with the deep pockets who will turn their increased costs over to you in the form of higher fees.
Today on the Internet, you go to numerous sites. Some are small like this one or the Middleboro town web site. Some are huge like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and so on. You access these sites via your connection to the Internet that is provided by an Internet Service Provider(ISP). For most of you that is Comcast or Verizon.
So we have three things:
- You (or me) the consumer of web content
- Content providers (Netflix, nemasket.net, Hulu, YouTube, blogs that you quote when explaining to people that Obama isn’t an American citizen, etc)
- ISP – the company that gives 1 the access to 2
So You have been paying your ISP for years. They guarantee that you can acesss a certain(fairly large) amount of data from the Internet based on the plan you have. Every time you read an email, view a picture, play a game online, or watch YouTube, you are downloading(consuming) content off the Internet. And that’s OK because you can’t consume more than your service allows.
And that was all fine for years. The providers(Comcast, Verizen, etal) were charging you knowing that the vast majority of you would never consume all the data they were providing. But gosh-golly didn’t we all feel special that our pipes were so big? So we are all one big happy family. We’ve all been gladly paying for more data than we used, and the ISP’s were happy to pocket the difference.
On top of our Internet fees, we were also paying for cable TV. A lot. And of course we bundled in the “triple play”. Many of us are still paying for a landline that serves absolutely no purpose except to provide an extra $15 or $20 bucks to our providers. Why? On the off chance that there would be some kind of disaster that would leave the phone lines intact but disable the cell towers? Uh-huh.
And then it changed
There is a sea change happening in the way we get TV. More and more of us have “cut the cord”. We opted out of our $100 or $200 cable bills and are watching Netflix, Hulu, and other things over the Internet on the Internet connection we already had. But you didn’t think these massive conglomerates were going to just let us stop paying them did you?
Enter Net Neutrality
Comcast, Verizon, and other giant companies that want our money have come up with the idea that access to the Internet should be tiered – better service/speed for those that are willing to pay for it, and lesser service for those who are not. They cloak the concept in ways that sound reasonable and assure you that it will not result in a disparate Internet. In reality what is already happening is that companies like NetFlix who transmit massive amount of data will pay more to Verizon and Comcast so that their data takes precedence over other traffic. That means it works better and more people will end up using them over their competitors.
Here’s the part where you get screwed
You will not be consuming any more traffic than you are already paying for. NetFlix will pay more to Verizon and Comcast – and in turn will raise their rates to make up for the expense. You pay more to Netflix and end up consuming no more data than you are already paying for. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Comcast and Verizon hit you with some sort of “Netflix Internet surcharge” because you habitually use the bandwidth you are paying for.
I’ve been very happily paying very little for a vast selection of TV content since I cancelled by cable subscription. More and more people are doing the same. Verizon and Comcast don’t like that – and they are going to remake the Internet in their image to force us to pay more. The politicians will do nothing because the big boys have too much money for them to dare oppose them.