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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will be moving forward with a proposal to eliminate the laws that make net neutrality possible, which will lead to the internet to behave like one, the big cable company.
In simple terms, net neutrality is the concept that the internet should be free and accessible to all, regardless of sex, gender, socio-economic status, or location. Additionally, net neutrality ensures that Internet Service Providers cannot ‘discriminate’ against users by restricting them access to certain websites or content unless they pay a fee. Up until now from 2015, FCC under Obama’s administration protected users with net neutrality rules allowing them a high-quality internet experience completely free from regulation. So what would the internet look like if there was no net neutrality? If Ajit Pai’s proposal is made into law, the internet would look a whole lot like cable television.
For instance, ISP’s would have ‘slow lanes’ and ‘fast lanes’ for different types of consumers. The fast lanes would be reserved for consumers who are willing to pay an additional fee to their ISP, while the slow lanes would be for everyone else—this means that services such as news websites or video streaming would be extremely slow. While this is profit-enhancing for broadband companies such as AT&T and Comcast, it comes at the expense of customer experience. Every good company knows that their business starts with the customer, not profit.
ISPs would also have the power to influence what websites and services consumers would be able to use, which is detrimental to the ‘free speech’ of the internet. There would be nothing stopping ISP’s from censoring political opinions it disagreed with, or even restricting access to a competitor’s services. Net neutrality allows everyone to have a voice on a platform, including minorities who otherwise would be shut down by the public. The reason why communities such as people of color are able to gain the awareness of millions of people around the globe is precisely because of the free and open internet. If this was shut down, we would be led to a backward society.
Net Neutrality is foundational to competitive, free enterprise, entrepreneurial market entry — and reaching global customers. You don’t have to be a big shot to compete. Anyone with a great idea, a unique perspective to share, and a compelling vision can get in the game.-Twitter
Ironically, cable companies claim that net neutrality is stifling investment in infrastructure despite telling the exact opposite to investors. The facts show that with net neutrality and an open internet, investment has actually increased for cable companies in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. ISPs claim that additional revenue will be reinvested into their networks to attain faster speeds and improved service. But realistically, would that really be the case? Shareholders expect to be compensated out of the company’s profits; frankly, they do not want that money to be reinvested into the company. There would be a lot of pressure for investors to get back their money before any ‘investment’ would take place.
Cable companies also boast having increased innovation without net neutrality. While these companies may have an increased incentive to provide better quality services to those willing to pay the price, that’s only a very small picture of the internet as a whole. What would happen to small businesses who rely on selling their products and services to consumers online? Studies show that if a website doesn’t load in 3 seconds, half the website visitors will leave immediately. Without net neutrality, this would be extremely disadvantageous to e-commerce businesses who require fast loading times for their potential customers. Yes, it’s true that they can pay ISPs to gain higher speeds, but that approach is likelily unaffordable for them. Without a free and open internet, we would see a decline in entrepreneurship which is not only detrimental economically, but the world could be missing out on the next ‘Google’ or ‘Facebook.’
The more regulated the internet becomes by large corporations, the less it becomes a central hub for innovation, creativity, and freedom.