Open Internet, or Network Neutrality, are both vague yet appealing titles. What do they mean? Open Internet (or Network Neutrality) simply refers to accessible internet without usage restrictions. People already pay hefty fees for their current, slow internet connections, and many ISPs are looking to change that. Ironically, I have so far only heard combative news regarding Open Internet on the internet, and not in televised media. If you google “Network Neutrality”, you can quickly see countless articles screaming “Save the Internet!” and I am here to provide you with a clear indication as to why.
There are telecommunication companies, such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, who are seeking to block access to certain services unless a customer pays an additional fee. That means they are seeking to dictate what you can or cannot have access to with your cellular or digital internet. Want to surf Youtube? That’s alright, you just have to pay an additional $9.99. Want Netflix or Hulu? Unfortunately, you must purchase one service for both platforms for a convenient $19.99.
No, no thank you. That sucks, and you suck.
Although I do agree, we as consumers must, well, consume a service, we demand quality services for appropriate payments. The oligarchic control of our capital is too much, and we risk losing so much more if we lose this fight. Currently the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is determining legislation regarding what ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have access to do, and that is why us, the common users, must vocalize our opinions in this falling democratic system. So what does an ISP do? An ISP sets you up with an internet connection; that’s it. Some ISPs offer various speed packages (the ability to surf the internet, upload/download files, etc., faster), yet this initially came around as a combative measure for illegal downloading and has never truly been regarded as overstepping any great liberty.
So we’re back to the initial interest of ISPs. What do many of them want to do? They want to charge you based on your typical internet usage, and manage what you have access to. That means you can game online and have access to your ISPs’ services, yet if you want Youtube, Netflix or Hulu, certain email services, or even Skype, you’ll have to pay your ISP to unlock access. That means that http://www.google.com/ would be inaccessible unless you pay your ISP for Google services.
So to bring it all together, why is this important, and why are many people calling it an infringement of freedom? The internet is regarded by many to be the single, greatest technological advancement of times. In regards to economic competition, open internet helps stimulate competition amongst ISPs, and incidents of unfair internet packaging would cripple such competition, thus, the internet remains open and competitive; although prices slowly rise over the years, quality does as well because of this competition (Anyone remember those Comcast superfast commercials? I loved them).
The internet helps spread ideas. We have seen regimes fall because of open internet communication and accessible information. An open internet stimulates the innovation of ideas, and assists in global and cross-cultural communication.
These accesses stimulate both entrepreneurial and scientific innovation. The freedom to have access to this source- the internet- goes hand-in-hand with the privilege to maintain open internet communication. What is so beautiful to me is that the internet has saved countless lives, both through direct interpersonal communication, and through the disbursement of ideas which lead to new social and scientific breakthroughs. This is why I fight; to maintain the internet for the advantage of the common person.
As the consumer, we do owe credit to the ISP. After all, without the ISP, where would our internet be? Yet does this mean that we are forever at the mercy growing profit margins? No, and next time I’ll be talking about Gig City, the growing Silicon Valley right in the good ol’ South. You can go ahead and spoil it for yourself, however I’ll give you a tidbit now; Chattanooga, TN is expanding our perceptions to what an ISP is, and is giving us the new community-driven, publicly funded ISP, all with speeds up to 50x faster.
I can’t wait to tell you all about it.