I’m not going to recap the wealth of discussion and debate over Net Neutrality. You know how to use Google, so use that to find more information. Or for the most basic of primers check out this great video from the New York Times on How Net Neutrality Works. It explains the concept well and has some great points from David Carr (who, according to this video, has a head so huge I’m afraid it might snap his neck any second) about controlling content as well as access.
But even if the debate over Internet innovation doesn’t motivate you to take action then perhaps this will. Killing Net Neutrality will make you pay more money not once but twice. Here’s how.
First, for the large bandwidth services like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, paying for access will be an absolute must. Take a look at Netflix’ blog post about why Net Neutrality is important, specifically the second chart which shows what happened when Netflix started paying Comcast for priority access:
Netflix was forced to do this because average Netflix access speed was decreasing to unacceptable levels for Comcast customers. (This was not happening to customers on other carriers…isn’t that an odd coincidence?) If they hadn’t paid then customers would be upset.
But where do you think this extra money is going to come from? Netflix customers, that’s who. It will either come from their customers in the form of increased monthly rates over time or it will come in the form of less content that Netflix now develops because part of that money is routed to paying ISP tolls. Either way, this is the first time you’ll pay without Net Neutrality as all the major bandwidth services are forced to incur this expense.
The second way you’ll pay is in the form of reduced access to everyone who isn’t willing to pay. Maybe the site isn’t large enough to pay the tolls but you really enjoy it–be prepared to have their access de-prioritized in exchange for all the major players. Or maybe the site simply can’t afford the tolls even if lots of people use it. Think Wikipedia.
This problem gets worse the more high-bandwidth content is forced to pay for tolls and get priority access. Of the big three streaming services, you may subscribe to one or none of them–but that won’t stop their content from delaying everything else heading your way.
So you’ll have the privilege of paying a second time for no Net Neutrality. Maybe you’ll pay to try and get more bandwidth to your house, a method which may not work if the major networks are still crammed with the high-bandwidth priority content. Or maybe you’ll just pay with your time, waiting longer periods for content that used to be treated equally. And yes, to paraphrase, time is a form of payment.
If you honestly don’t have an opinion on Net Neutrality, maybe that will connect with you. Paying twice for a rule change is a pretty bad option compared to everyone participating equally in a single network and everyone having a vested interest in making the entire network run better. The proposed rules by the FCC kill net neutrality–they hide behind this nomenclature of Open Internet but that is not a Neutral Internet.
All the major technology, content, and social media companies support Net Neutrality. The big companies like Netflix and Facebook know that a neutral Internet let them become the giants they now are. The smaller companies know that a neutral Internet is the only way they can compete against their larger competitors. And technology innovators everywhere know that having equal access is the best way to develop new platforms and software.
Do you know who supports killing Net Neutrality? The carriers. That’s it.
If you feel compelled to take action, here’s a great article on how you can submit comments to the FCC while they are still considering their proposed rule changes.