Cable and telecoms companies are pushing for the ability to create Internet ‘fast lanes’ for high volume customers (those who use sites such as Netflix for example) that take up a lot of bandwidth. This may not seem like such a bad idea on the surface, but when you delve a little deeper, there are many problems that come with opening up the Internet in this manner – and what’s more, this is something that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had previously embraced as a positive…
The FCC exists to preserve an equal Internet, one that regulates all interstate and international communications by television, satellite cable etc. so you’d think that by agreeing to this idea, it would stand against everything that they value, right? Think again.
By allowing cable and telecom companies to get their way, we could create an Internet for the haves and the have-nots. Undoubtedly this is an element of online innovation that nobody wants – apart from the service providers themselves that is. This is because these providers would charge technology companies like YouTube for access to this lane. YouTube would then be forced to pay the premium in order to continue sharing quality video and content at high speeds to users. If it didn’t pay, users would only be able to stream slow, constantly buffering videos.
Why it’s bad news
If these regulations were implemented, businesses and websites that thrived because of the quality of their product would suffer because ‘fast lanes’ would only be available to those to who can afford to pay off the biggest service providers. This would be a backwards step and would completely go against the democratic system we currently have in place.
The idea of the Internet is to create a place where people can connect on a level that transcends both geographical and cultural barriers. We must not let internet service providers pick who gets a fast-lane connection and at what price. If we do, there’s nothing to stop this spiralling out of control.
President Obama has remained defiant and has emphasised his stance on net neutrality – and rightly so. He recently stated, “The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do.” The good news is that the FCC’s proposal is just that – a proposal, so there is still time to change it and to convince them to create net neutrality rules that prevent paid prioritisation. Let’s just hope they see sense after this setback and do what’s best for the good of every Internet user on this planet.