Net neutrality: a phrase that’s been popping up in the news recently. What is this concept and why is it being voted on?
What Is It?
When you search the Internet today, you can click on any site that you choose. Whether you’re looking at Facebook, Hulu, or the website of a local business, you can access web pages equally. This is because net neutrality is currently in place; your Internet provider is not allowed to “favor” certain websites. Internet providers, such as Frontier, Spectrum, or AT&T, are required to load every type of web page at the same speed and same price.
The Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC, is the government agency that has a say in the regulation of the Internet. In 2008, a complaint was filed against Comcast for reducing the amount of bandwidth certain users could use for videos while allowing other users to have the original amount of bandwidth. This meant that some users viewed particular websites much slower than other users. The FCC ruled that Comcast had to stop this, which set a precedent of net neutrality: giving everyone equal speed for all kinds of websites.
In 2015, the FCC released rules to preserve the open Internet, or uphold net neutrality. It classified Internet provision as a service that the FCC is legally allowed to regulate and banned Internet providers from giving some content priority over other content.
In December of 2017, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality. On June 11th, the repeal officially passed; this means that net neutrality is no longer being upheld.
How Does this Affect Me?
It depends on your customers. Various customers will have various Internet providers, and Internet providers can now legally choose to slow down certain websites if they would like. If one provider chooses to slow down or charge extra money for access to video streaming site and your business is a video streaming site, then some of your customers will have to pay more or wait longer for access to your site. It is also possible that an Internet provider will make a deal with hosting companies to give priority to all websites that the company hosts. If this is the case, your website might be slowed down if it’s not hosted by that particular company.
Nobody is entirely sure what will happen next, so we’ll keep you updated!