Net neutrality can seem like somewhat of a boring topic. A discussion for political gain, or just a buzz word. This aside, the effects of net neutrality and ensuring a free and open Internet are important. It can have serious effects on your ability to stream Netflix and Binge watch your favorite TV show.
This brings us to the net neutrality debate explained and why should we care.
“Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.” Wikipedia
This definition is the beginning to a heated debate. A debate on everything from free speech to support of entrepreneurs.
It determines how we view the Internet, and to some extent, how we view who is going to pay for the internet. The Internet is the vehicle for connecting the world. The platform to the connection economy.
Net neutrality can be broken into a few areas that have ramifications spanning borders. Countries will not agree on net neutrality, and its enforcement and preservation. Regardless of country, there are certain issues that pertain to the topic.
The Internet is a Public Utility
As with access to a telephone, telecommunications is a public utility. We can use the following definition of a public utility:
“…the transmission of information, as words, sounds, or images, usually over great distances, in the form of electromagnetic signals, as by telegraph, telephone, radio, or television.” – definition.com
By utilizing this definition, we can understand that the Internet is a public utility. Thus, it should be treated as such. Telephone companies cannot choose which phone calls may go through and which may not. As it is a public utility. The Internet, if not protected under net neutrality, may not be subject to the same standards.
The ACLU in the United States deems net neutrality as a free speech issue. Controlling content is controlling what is being said. If there is information that an Internet service provider disagrees with, it can block it. This is not in support of free speech and the free flow of information.
Innovation within the Internet space occurs due to the ability to scale rapidly at a low cost. If entrepreneurs have to pay for Internet distribution and priority, this could stifle innovation.
Companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix are outspoken proponents of net neutrality. It is partially because this is how they were all able to grow and become the Internet companies they are today.
Artificially creating monopolies could be a result of not enforcing net neutrality. This would mean that if Verizon decided it was going to offer a video streaming service, then provide it to its customer for free, while simultaneously charging Netflix more to send its data over its network, there would be potential monopoly. Wait, I think they were just accused of something like this.
This is just one example of net neutrality potentially being infringed. The result is an unfair marketplace.
Net neutrality is a hot topic. As you can see, there are strong implications for consumers and company’s ability to distribute data and information. If you are an individual blogger trying to grow your readership, you would like the same chance at success as a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate. This is how competition creates innovation. A level playing field.
Net neutrality – simply put – is a way to provide free flow of communication and information. Hopefully this means globally.