If you have been paying attention to the news you have probably heard about net neutrality. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, it is a court case that Verizon brought to the courts in mid January. The courts ended up striking down the FCC’s neutrality rules. What does this mean for you? Well, it means that your internet service providers can now charge fees to companies like Netflix which drives a lot of traffic so that they can ensure fast service for those websites. You may not have paid much attention to this court case but you should have been. Let me give you five reasons why you should care about this ruling.
- Internet Service Providers Will Take Control – Currently the great thing about the internet is that internet service providers are not allowed to set prices based upon users, content, platform, etc. With these new rules that are in place the internet service provider now will be able to make you pay more to ensure you the quality that you need to view certain sites. It will work much like your cable companies currently work. For basic internet you will get so much access and for premium you will get different access. This will be decided based on what benefits the internet service provider and me and you will have to pay for the service accordingly. This is a great thing for our internet service providers but for me and you it is going to end up costing us.
- Internet Service Providers Are In the Middle – Before this ruling took place website owners would upload content on to a website and then we could go visit it as we wished. The internet service provider would just allow us the means to get online and visit the pages. Now they are going to be able to decide whether certain people can visit certain websites. We are going to have to make sure that we have the right internet package before we will be able to visit a website like Netflix. If we are not signed up for the correct internet package their will be disturbance or we simply will not be able to visit the particular page. This will work much like it works with cable companies. If you don’t pay for a subscription for to HBO for example then you cannot view any of the many HBO channels.
- Free Market Competition No More – If you are a small online business or a start up business you may begin to be weeded out. This sounds like something we would of never dreamed that would of happened a few years ago but it is here. Why am I saying that small online business and start ups may be in trouble? The reason is because they will not be able to afford the fees that internet services are going to charge them so they can simply display their content. If this would of been allowed a few years ago then start ups such as Facebook may have never gotten off the ground. The internet will soon become a place where corporations that have a ton of money will be able to dominate and the small and new businesses will no longer be able to compete. Consumers are no longer going to be able to use the internet to have choices to support the small business because the only companies that will be able to afford to have a website online is going to be the rich.
- Uncertain Future – The FCC has said that they will not be appealing the ruling by the courts. Instead they are going to attempt to create new rules that will prevent internet service providers from charging companies fees in order to provide their consumers premium access to be able view their sites. Until these new rules are made companies such as Netflix will already have to pay internet service providers such as Comcast a fee before Comcast will give their users premium access that will allow them to stream Netflix videos. If you think that Netflix is going to be paying all these different internet service providers a fee without that cost being past on to their customers. If you are a big Netflix fan then you better be prepared to start paying more for their services.
- Areas That Do Not Have Certain Service Providers – There will be certain areas that may not have a internet service provider that will allow access to a specific website. Then what is going to happen? Well, if you live in an area that doesn’t have an internet service provider that website’s like Netflix has decided to pay the fees of then you are out of luck. An example of how this is going to work is like Watch ESPN. Yes, currently all internet users are allowed to visit ESPN, but in order to use their Watch ESPN function they have a short list of internet providers. If your provider is not in that list then do not bother attempting watching ESPN online because there will be no possible way. Rural areas that only have one service provider may be paying for very limited internet access in the near future. This could set those areas back big time.
As we see corporations gain more and more power, we are seeing the little man become less and less relevant. We are lucky to be living in a country where the American dream is alive and well. One of the best places to start a new business is online. The internet has given the small person a way to compete with the large corporations. Some of the small start ups have even made it big for example Google and Facebook. However, with this new court ruling it is going to make it very difficult for any new or small internet businesses to make it. This is a ruling that should be very disturbing and should be getting much more attention in the media. How is this going to turn out? Well, we are in limbo right now and will just have to wait and see.