Abolishing net netrality will affect everyone

By Stepha Poulin and By Stepha Poulin

Net neutrality policies have been discussed since the last presidential administration, and the topic is making headlines again with the words of the new FCC chairman, AjitPai. He has suggested reforms that would negate past net neutrality rules under the guise of giving internet service providers more freedom to compete.  

These reforms don’t consider how the consumer is affected, though. Most of us use the internet, so we all should be concerned about what Pai’s plans entail.  

How would these proposals hinder net neutrality? One needs to understand how current net neutrality rules work before understanding how Pai could completely change how we access the web.  

Currently, ISPs are treated as companies providing a utility, like gas, water or electricity. The service they provide is considered a necessity for modern life. This stops ISPs from giving preferential treatment to certain entities on the web or creating internet packages resembling cable TV package options.  

Without net neutrality, ISPs could create internet packages which fill certain niches of web traffic. For example, one could pay for a social media package and receive data that can only be used on sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Consumers would have to purchase another data plan to access other sites.  

The web without net neutrality could have other consequences, too. ISPs could throttle download/upload speeds on websites. This could greatly affect streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Imagine waiting 10 minutes for each episode to buffer every time you want to watch something.  

This may seem impractical, but ISPs could use this to revive the dying cable TV market. More people are switching to streaming services. If streaming shows suddenly became an inconvenience, then (maybe) more people would move back to regular TV. I wouldn’t though – I’m petty.  

Some countries don’t have net neutrality, and it is reflected in their data packages for phone service and internet service. One phone service plan from Mexico is a great example of how data usage can be lumped into categories and have a price tacked onto it.  

However, in this country, we’re used to a free and open internet. It’s done wonders for us. To me, the internet is like the library of the 21st century.  

Discriminating loading times and data usage for individual websites infringes on how people access information. With a free and open internet, more people can access knowledge than ever before. In a way, we’re holding back the advancement of our country by revoking net neutrality.  

The FCC is still going through the bureaucratic process, so there’s still time to call and complain about Chairman Pai’s plans. These people are supposed to represent all of us, but they need to know they aren’t doing so properly. Don’t be complacent, and take action.  

If net neutrality becomes a thing of the past, at least you can say you tried to fight for its repeal.