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Net Fatality

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The stage is set on Capitol Hill for a major battle between the giant telecom companies and the American internet users. Net Neutrality is under attack by the current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, who has released a plan that would roll back Obama-era regulations on the internet server providers (ISPs). Rolling back earlier regulations is a terrible idea, and these rules need to be upheld by the FCC to keep the internet the level playing field that it is.

Net Neutrality is the idea that the internet is an equal playing field for all sites, no matter their size. What makes this principle work are the guidelines released in 2015 by the FCC that require all ISPs to give each and every site on the internet the same bandwidth, or speed. For instance, a giant company like Google.com has the same speeds as awestnews.com, which gives small businesses a leg to stand on in the digital world. If the rules are repealed, companies like Google could pay to keep their speeds high, but if other smaller companies refuse to pay–or can’t–their speeds could be slowed down. That is satisfactory for large companies, but if a small business relies on its website but can not pay the cost to have usable speeds, they can be unfairly targeted.

What Pai wants to do is have the government stop “micromanaging the internet,” but that does not convince many. Most people do not want a society run by big business because the large service providers like Comcast and Verizon would have no incentive not to take advantage of their customers. When companies do not have to adhere to these regulations, the ISPs are free to charge customers a fee to speed up their coverage, making  these already giant companies more competitive in the marketplace.

A vote is planned for these rules next month, but Pai, who is a former executive at Verizon, one of the major ISPs, seems to have the advantage in the department for the vote on December 14, with a 3-2 split.

The government is absolutely meant to manage the internet if it means protecting the American people from being controlled by the corporations. Since there are only so many internet providers in the country, and in many places there is only one viable purchase option, many consumers are completely at the mercy of their provider. This means that companies can charge whatever they want, and people have two choices: not have internet, or pay what they ask.

Consumers may feel the ramifications of such actions in the place it counts: their wallet. Streaming services, such as Netflix, rely on high internet speeds to make their programming watchable, but if they need to pay an extra premium to the ISP, they will need to charge the viewer more per month.

With a vote on the rules coming on December 14, over 22 million people have written to the Federal Communications Commision (using proceedings 17-108), urging them to not retract the guidelines, and many companies have come out against the proposal as well. If you want to keep the internet free and equal, please click the link to leave a comment on the FCC’s website and let them know how you feel about their attempts to end Net Neutrality. Have your voice heard to keep our internet the wonderful place it is.

Further Info:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92vuuZt7wak&t=973s

http://fortune.com/2017/11/23/net-neutrality-explained-what-it-means-and-why-it-matters/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/technology/fcc-net-neutrality.html

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