Taking a quick look at net neutrality, it seems like something that we absolutely need. But, there is more than one way to look at it, and that could be a good thing.
Going back to the beginning of the Internet, originally, it was something that belonged to the government, and then universities. The Internet in its beginnings provided a place for researchers and the government to share information.
The Internet’s growth, in large part, happened because of people who believed in freely sharing information, and saw the Internet as a way to do that.
The next step, of course, was commercialization. As businesses realized the money-making potential, web browsers and ISPs came into existence. The money they invested into the Internet keeps it strong and growing, reaching more and more people every year.
With something that strong, of course government regulation is going to come into play.
Eventually we get into net neutrality. Supporters of net neutrality fall in line with those who believe information should be free and available to all, and they make a good point. Because the Internet has infiltrated nearly every aspect of American life, businesses pretty much must have some type of web presence to survive.
People need the Internet for everyday things like making doctor’s appointments or even completing school assignments. People without access are at a serious disadvantage to those with it. It is essential to basic communication these days.
Net neutrality helps ensure that all people have equal access to the Internet. Businesses, big or small, run at the same speed on the Internet, so in that sense, they have equal opportunity.
It seems like this is the fairest way to treat everyone. Is it really?
Is it fair that businesses like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu pay the exact same price for Internet service as you, me, or the guy next door? Why shouldn’t they pay more. After all, they are charging the consumer to use their product. Meanwhile, they pay the exact same price for using enormous amounts of bandwidth as the guy who only streams one movie at a time.
The ISPs have to provide this bandwidth. They have to continue to research and pursue the next piece of technology. As the Internet grows and changes, the ISPs must keep up or die. But, under net neutrality, they cannot charge more to the companies that use more of their services.
So, net neutrality was repealed in 2018. This actually falls in line with the Telecommunications Act, which promotes competition and reduces regulation. That, in turn, helps secure lower prices and higher quality service.
To sum it up, I find it very difficult to definitively say whether net neutrality is good or bad. A year after the repeal was announced, none of the scary predicted events have happened. I hope that continues.
The good news is that these rules and regulations are not set in stone. The next administration could change it again. Just like the Internet itself, these rules will continue to change over time.