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It's hard to overestimate just how much broadband changed the internet. Back when
you had to connect to the internet using dial-up, information traveled slowly.
Pages took forever to load and watching this video would have been impossible.
Today's internet is a completely different creature, which is why it's so
puzzling that the last time Congress passed a major legislation for
regulating the internet, it was 1996. And so the task of regulating the Internet
has fallen to five unelected bureaucrats: the Federal Communications Commission.
As the tools we use to access the Internet have changed, they've had to decide what
kinds of rules the companies that provide those tools should have to
follow. And now under a new commissioner appointed by President Trump the FCC has
altered those rules in a way that could fundamentally change how we use the Internet.
Take a deep breath. This decision will
not break the Internet. This decision puts the Federal Communications
Commission on the wrong side of history. It creates a free-for-all, that we have
not had on the Internet in the past and that's very very dangerous. It's gonna be f****d.
What we're seeing here is the cable-ization of the Internet. This is a dark
day for innovation, this is a dark day for small business, it is a dark day for
consumers. First, let's define what most people mean when they talk about Net
Neutrality. A good working consensus model that most would agree with is the
idea that Internet Service Providers should treat all traffic more or less
the same on their network. This means the companies whose wires and towers we use
to access the Internet, can't block or slow down data from
certain sites or apps. They can't make special deals to move certain data along
faster than everybody else's. Internet content providers like Facebook, Google,
and Netflix - they love Net Neutrality because it means that even if some of
their products, like streaming this video for example, take up a lot more bandwidth
than others like email, Internet Service Providers can't charge them extra for
getting all that data to our phones and computers. Which is exactly why ISPs like
Comcast Verizon and AT&T hate it. If they could charge Netflix and YouTube
extra for those big packets of data, they could make a lot of money and now that
the FCC has scrapped the net neutrality rules they almost certainly will. ISPs
will also be able to charge customers more to access sites or apps that take
up more bandwidth. And some argue this will mean more choices for consumers.
My sense is this will be fantastic, right because my daughter chews through
my Verizon data cap every month and all she ever does is Instagram. So if I could
pay like 20 bucks and get her a phone that I can text with her and talk with
her, but would allow her to use Instagram and get her off my standard data plan
that would be great. But by privileging established tools like Instagram, these
plans could make it a lot harder for new ones to break through. It's a time when
more than ever we want to encourage and keep open a playing field for new
services, new platforms, to be able to get in the game and provide a real
alternative. I mean imagine a world in which we were
all still stuck with MySpace. I don't think, you know, that's what we want, but
Net Neutrality is part of why that's not what we have. Until 2005 Internet Service
Providers were classified as common carriers which meant the FCC could
regulate them like phone companies. In the Internet's early days these
regulations kept phone companies from charging customers extra for using
dial-up services like AOL and when phone companies started offering DSL broadband
service over their lines, common carrier rules force them to let their
competitors use those lines too. Which meant consumers had tons of choices when
it came to picking an Internet Service Provider.
A 2003 page from the Washington Post lists 18 different DSL options for the
Washington, D.C. region. Today, residents have less than half as many
choices. So what happened? In 2005 the FCC did the same thing it did in 2017. It
said ISPs weren't common carriers and it stopped regulating them like phone
companies and without that regulation ISPs became virtual monopolies. Today,
two-thirds of Americans live in areas with just one choice for high-speed
Internet. And if their ISPs start blocking,
slowing down, or charging more as a result of this rule change, their options
are to put up with it or go without the Internet. Despite the fact that
majorities of both Republican and Democratic voters support Net Neutrality,
it doesn't look like Congress or the FCC will be bringing it back anytime soon.
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How the end of net neutrality could change the internet

89 Folder Collection
Jack Wu published on December 27, 2017
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