Recently, there have been many discussions about “net neutrality” topic. Despite that we benefit from this principle every day, many of us have no idea what this term means. Here is what you need to know about this important issue.
Net Neutrality in Everyday Life
When you search in the internet, your first attempt brings you to the homepage of your chosen search engine. People prefer different homepages including Bing, Yahoo or Google. Having those engines, you can go anywhere. If you are looking for a particular site, you just need to type an address and search it. If you what to find certain information, you can type the details of your topic and your search engine will bring you all the results about the necessary issue. They are provided by your internet service provider (ISP). The latter can’t decide which results show you.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality is a network design principle that makes it possible for us to see all the available results. The phrase “net neutrality” basically means that all websites on the internet are treated fairly by your internet service provider. They can’t discriminate against sites based on popularity, type or any other factor. For instance, if your provider is CenturyLink, they are not allowed to block websites or slow down services to certain sites. All the websites get the same treatment across the board, regardless of their content or popularity. For example, the speed on YouTube videos broadcasted by my internet provider is the same as it’s on Netflix. My ISP doesn’t discriminate against the site in any way.
How Does This Affect Me?
This is important because of the consequences. If ISP can change the way how they provide a service to different websites, that could mean that your monthly billing would be set up similarly to a cable TV package. Certain packages can be charged more for particular websites based on their popularity (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, YouTube).
Otherwise, packages can be established depending on the type of websites. For instance, a Portuguese internet provider offers different packages for social media including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Messenger, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snap Chat, and Twitter. It also provides a package for video covering YouTube and Netflix. It has other more packages as well, including musical one such as Pandora, and Sound Cloud and packs with cloud services such as Gmail, Google drive, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Drop box. Each of these packages costs €4.99 or about $5.91.
This means that being an average internet user, I would have to pay for each of these packages every month, because I use all of those websites on a regular basis.
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Why Is This Only Now Becoming an Issue?
The Federal Communications Commission are responsible for pushing the vote, which is set for December 14th of 2017. The mass media prefers to be silent about the issue. Moreover, it is very likely, that the media would never have highlighted the events if there wasn’t a huge public outcry over this topic. A group of 28 senators headed by Senator Maggie Hanssen has written the FCC a letter asking them to delay the vote until they can properly examine the document and gain a full understanding of it.
The short answer is internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and CenturyLink who gain the most. Due to the new rules they would be permitted to charge their customers more money for different internet packages.
Which Countries Don’t Have Net Neutrality?
There are many countries who have a lack in legislation directly addressing net neutrality. One of them is Portugal, where the neutrality model has different packages and extra data that costs more money. If you use social media, it would cost a fee. If you want a video streaming, then you should pay other fee. Thus, you are charged of every type of application or website which eventually costs a lot of money. However, there are numerous countries without net neutrality including China, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Syria, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Egypt, Venezuela, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The degree of restriction varies from country to country. In some of them, for instance, in China, the government has blocked many popular websites such as YouTube, Gmail, Instagram, Pinterest, and other. Moreover, Chinese authorities extensively control the public opinion on current events that are published on the websites. There are other countries as well who have partial net neutrality or minor regulation addressing internet control, such as India.
The internet is the humanity’s best invention of all times. What makes it great is that all the content and information is treated equally. The Internet is the unique source in the world that makes it possible for you to access any information from any place at any time. The closure of net neutrality will end the open internet in general. The extension of internet regulation will increase people’s expenditure on services and cause a great detriment to our society.