Why Net Neutrality Matters

Why Net Neutrality Matters

Net Neutrality is a rule set forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that discourages data providers from prioritizing the delivery of information across their networks based on sender. For example, Time Warner or Comcast can’t say that they will give better access to video streams from Netflix over Hulu, and vice versa. This is an important concept because the transmission of one’s services across the internet can’t be based upon one’s wherewithal to pay access for it beyond initial hookup, so essentially any web based business is on the same footing in that regards.

Without Net Neutrality, any provider can charge any rate they want to any online service or website or face slowed down speeds or buffering. If you’re Netflix, you’d be very worried about your product not delivering properly and leaving your subscriber sitting at a screen with a swirling red circle and nothing else. If you’re a small developer creating an app or website and bootstrapping your operations, your capital requirements just went through the roof. Your only option is to pay up or nobody sees your work.

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In today’s marketplace the majority of innovation is taking place online. Facebook, Snapchat, and many other billion dollar startups were created on a free and open internet, without one, they become entrenched and the barriers to entry much steeper. Internet plans start looking more like cable packages, where you pick and choose what bundles you want, such as social, media, shopping, etc. If you live in an area with one or maybe two internet providers (as most Americans do), your total cost of subscription is going to increase as online services you already use have to pass back their costs to the consumer. If Net Neutrality becomes a thing of the past you should run out and buy TWC and Comcast stock because they are going to have their customers over a barrel.

The internet is simply a unique creature and the public should have a say over it, especially given that so much of today’s infrastructure has been subsidized by the taxpayers themselves. Unfortunately, telecom companies are notorious lobbyists and have a lot of friends both in Congress and at the FCC. The chances of Net Neutrality becoming a thing of the past is pretty high, and given that the FCC is ignoring public comment on the matter, a sure thing at this point. Today’s consumers and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs will be at a severe disadvantage, and one of the really bright spots in the economy will get just a little dimmer.