Answers to All Your Net Neutrality Questions

All about Wednesday’s Decision for the Digital Age


Odds are you’ve heard of it. In the past month, the coined term ‘net neutrality’ has swept through social media and news stations alike. Since the internet is such an integral part of society and daily life, the weight of the subject is quite massive. Today, the FCC made the drastic decision to repeal net neutrality. Despite the fact that a whopping 86% of Americans (The Chicago Tribune) voted against it.

But… what even is net neutrality? And more importantly, should I be worried about its repeal?

What is Net Neutrality? 

According to Google, net neutrality is “the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.” Basically, internet equality, regulated by the FCC.

For example, let’s say that Comcast decides they’re in bad terms with Netflix, and would rather have people watching primetime television via Xfinity On-Demand. With net neutrality, the access speeds and prices are the same for whichever site you choose. Want to binge Stranger Things? Comcast can’t stop you. Want to catch up on This is Us, on On-Demand? Comcast can’t speed up or promote your viewing experience. However, without net neutrality, it’s a slightly different story. Comcast could hinder your service to Netflix by insisting that you pay an extension fee for that site, or even slow down the internet speed to it altogether. Then, they could speed up On-Demand, leave it without any additional fees, and almost ‘advise you’ (not literally) to go there instead.

Until now, net neutrality has protected us from such discrimination. The same cannot be said about the future.

What does the repeal mean? 

Net neutrality allowed the FCC to regulate the online. Now, the web is in the hands of marketers and tech moguls across the world. Since it’s been repealed, the future of the digital age shifts. Service providers can now pick and choose the online websites they want to support, as well as the ones they want to hinder. If your provider unluckily selects Instagram to victimize, then it could be unnaturally sluggish and require payment to access.

Most likely, internet prices will increase. Along with the anger of everyday consumers.

The other impact is for the small tech companies, looking to develop the next great social network or viewing service. Large tech veterans (think Google) can pay service providers for faster processing speeds on their site. The young startups, incapable of paying such high fees, would struggle to compete with the larger corporations.

Then why do it? 

Net neutrality was excellent when it was first administered underneath the Bush administration by honestly, the internet’s changed a lot since then.

Every year, more and more data is jamming the bandwidth of the world-wide web. Movies streaming, free messaging services, and video downloads operate on a bountiful amount of data. A report from 2012, says that the internet took roughly $45 Billion dollars to develop. However, all these programs and services–which clog the great internet highway– are free.

On the remarks of video streaming, what about illegal downloading sites? They excessively stream wide amounts of data over the web— illicitly— and still don’t have to contribute any money towards the costly internet itself.

Finally, there’s the opportunity of innovation. Without net neutrality, the higher fees could perhaps go to something. Maybe complex fiber networks? As far as the tech industry is concerned, the sky’s the limit.

Okay… So what’s going to happen now?

Nothing’s going to change immediately. As much as opponents of net neutrality would like the repeal to go effective tomorrow, that’s just not how tech, economics, or the legal system works.

Similarly, nothing is guaranteed. Net neutrality was repealed, yes, but that doesn’t mean that your service provider is going to up-charge you on all of your favorite social media sites. Of course, they could.

For the repeal of net neutrality, we’re just going to have to face it with a wait and see mentality. For now, sit back, binge a season of your favorite TV show, and relax. The internet (and you) will survive.