What is net neutrality? Why should I care?

control save the internet key combinationYou may have heard of net neutrality being thrown around with the new Trump administration coming aboard. In short, net neutrality is ensuring Internet Service Providers, ISP’s, such as TimeWarner and Verizon, show content equally to consumers. So, this means TimeWarner must not block any channels such as the MSG Network if you want to watch the Knicks on your Smart TV, computer, iPad, or phone.  This allows all content, such as old-hats like HBO and Amazon or a newcomer we haven’t heard of, be equally available for access.

I am a fan of not playing favorites and ISP’s asking for more from content providers who get fast lanes.  Fast lanes are when content providers, such as Netflix, allow consumers to receive their shows and content faster than others.  Obviously, as impatient consumers, we will remember these fast load times and stick with these prioritized providers in the future.  No more for this which is a good move.

Another item I’m a fan of is wireless phone providers are not able to throttle data when getting to certain levels.  My Sprint plan, although deemed an unlimited data plan, would throttle my data to 3G once I got to past 1GB.  Not fun and definitely painful.  No longer.  The net neutrality plan forces all providers to ensure an unlimited plan is actually an unlimited plan with no false advertising or misleading the public.  Equal playing field so to speak within the unlimited data plan game.  I personally am grateful for this although I’m skeptical that providers will honesty abide by this.

My concern overall is that the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet as a public utility.  Think Obamacare for the Internet.  That is a scary thought and one which would be one-sided and beget a government-ruled monopoly.  Think how Con Edison takes its sweet time for appointments and charges you whatever it wants.  Well, the government would rule the land and skies of the Internet.  Yes, the Internet certainly needs some regulation, certainly to thwart off hackers and terrorists.  But, my concern is how long the arm of the government may be.  Will competition be muted?  Will price-setting be systematic along all technology support companies?

With Trump as president, he vows to totally abolish net neutrality.  Basically, net neutrality will be dead in short order.  I’m not so sure a total removal is good, but there should be certain provisions in effect, such as fair unlimited data plans and advertising, punishment for hackers, and other protective measures.  But, to tamper with competition and rule how business should be run is really none of the government’s business.



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