Net neutrality was a popular topic earlier in the year. Many have not heard much since the major stories hit the mainstream news. So what exactly is developing on this issue and how will this affect Internet users in the near future? Are any actual developments even coming to the surface yet or is it something where the effects won’t be noticed until there’s nothing to do about them?
So many questions, but sadly there are too few answers. This comes as no surprise though, seeing as net neutrality has not been brought up in mainstream media since the main court rulings.
However, things are starting to come to light.
Voting in Europe
Voting will take place later this week in Europe. This will determine whether or not telecom operators reserve the right to charge providers of content and media for their services at higher speeds.
Expectations are that the company will be voted against and that they will not keep this right. Based on the recommendations made by Europe on net neutrality, any Internet service provider would be required to neutrally provide to all of their traffic, no matter the content or provider.
Further, this hearing will help to lay down the lines on which particular services an Internet service provider will have the right to charge at an additional expense.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If the new laws are approved, then Europe would have taken a federal stance on net neutrality. This is something that could not be agreed upon in the United States, when the January court hearing rejected the federal proposal.
This will become European law only if the 28 nation’s governments’ all agree to the same decision.. At this point, legislation on net neutrality are only enforced in Slovenia and the Netherlands.
AT&T Makes a Promise
AT&T has recently made the promise to decrease the rates they charge for Internet to its users if the FCC puts an end to net neutrality. This is something that users are happy to hear, but the cost cuts are obviously not coming out of AT&T’s pockets.
Instead, it comes through the form of charging content providers. This will push some small players out and cause big players to increase the rates of their products. One of the most prominent examples is Netflix. As Netflix will have to pay more to provide their content quickly to their users’, their users’ will also have to pay more to use their service.
Why Net Neutrality is Sometimes an Issue
No one likes to hear about the possibility of being charged more for a service that they are already paying for. However, this is one of those issues that really needs to be seen by both views.
Sure, Internet user wants fairly charged rates and they want their service to be the same as the next person’s. What about the Internet service provider though?
The company providing you with Internet has to compete with all others that do the same. It’s a race to the bottom between quality and cost. Many Internet service providers have seen constant revenue declines for a few years now. Ditching net neutrality is seen as a potential last resort for some of these previously successful businesses.
It does not mean that it will be unfair to you. Think about the cost of the data used by the Internet service provider. If they can charge more to those that use more – such as those that watch HD videos online – then they can ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. It may not be seen as the fair amount, but the truth is that too many people are paying bottom rates for Internet and putting the providers at a loss.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It seems that Internet users are in an interesting point of time. It appears that right now, it is all about figuring out what the general public and governments think is right in regards to net neutrality.
There are minor advancements. The European vote is the biggest single bit of progress in a while though.
So it’s currently debate season. Everyone is weighing in on how they see net neutrality. The general consensus is that the Internet was made to be free and open to the public. It has caught many avid Internet users by surprise as the idea of being charged more for what they do online seems ludicrous. No one really thought this would even be an option that was thought of.
Millions could end up getting screwed over due to legislation being made on net neutrality. Millions could end up being protected as well. There is no way of knowing until a more specific legal stance is made, so for now it’s mostly speculation.
For anyone that loves the Internet as it has been, it also comes at a time for prayer. The freedom of the Internet is what made it so great. It grew in what was essentially a free market and everyone got to witness its growth. From a profit-taking standpoint, the Internet service providers’ approaches are understandable, but it comes at a high cost because they are not just asking for their customers, they want our Internet.