For about three days I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the fact that there are millions of people who are speaking out against net neutrality. This issue has proven just how ridiculously partisan and divided we have become.
Sadly, most of those I have encountered who oppose net neutrality have absolutely no idea what the term actually means. All they’re doing is parroting the nonsense they’ve been fed by someone who either doesn’t understand net neutrality, or is acting like nothing more than a paid spokesperson for big Internet service providers.
By the way, net neutrality is a horrible term to use to describe this. Even when I was first introduced to it I was a bit confused as to what it referenced. But the fact is, it’s about as simple of a concept as you can get with something as complex as the Internet.
Before going any further, let me state that I am writing this not as a progressive, because this is not a partisan issue – even if some are trying to make it out to be. I am writing this as nothing more than someone who uses the Internet and wants to see that it remains the beacon of freedom, expression and information that it’s been practically since its inception.
And that’s what net neutrality means.
It is really that simple.
Net neutrality is preserving the Internet how it’s been since the first time 99.99 percent of us used it. That is, whatever Internet speed you’re paying for is the speed at which each website you choose to visit is delivered to your computer. So, if you’re paying Comcast or AT&T for 60mbps download speeds – every single website you visit should be delivered to you at that speed by your ISP.
Let me paint a picture for those who seem to believe net neutrality is a bad thing for whatever asinine reasons.
Many of us have Netflix, right? It’s a simple enough service. Someone pays a few bucks every month and that gives them unlimited access to an entire library of movies to stream directly to whatever device that’s connected to the Internet. Aside from a Netflix subscription, the only thing else that is required is an Internet connection fast enough to provide the Netflix service.
So far this is pretty basic, right? Good.
Now, if someone has Netflix’s streaming service, it’s likely that they also have an Internet connection that is sufficient enough to deliver movies or shows via the Internet to whatever connected device they might possess. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that it’s a 30mbps connection for $40 per month.
So, as a consumer you’re paying your monthly subscription to Netflix and your monthly fee to your ISP. All should be well, right?
Well, not without net neutrality.
See, what had been happening was that without rules to preserve net neutrality, certain ISPs were throttling (slowing down) access to Netflix unless the movie streaming service paid higher premiums to these ISP’s such as Verizon or Comcast. Meaning that consumers who were paying their Netflix subscription fees, and their ISP’s monthly chargers, were not getting the services for which they were paying.
How is it fair (or legal for that matter) for someone who’s paying $40 per month for 30mbps download speeds to be unable to access a service that they’re paying for, such as Netflix, because their ISP has decided to not give them access to that website at the speeds for which they are paying?
But with the recent FCC ruling, net neutrality is saved. No longer will ISP’s be allowed to slow down access to websites anyone wants to visit because that site or business refused to pay a ransom for that access.
While I understand that there are millions of Americans who oppose anything and everything to do with government regulation, this is as basic as it gets. Besides, not all government regulations are bad. After all, did you eat lunch or dinner today without becoming violently ill or dying? Well, thank government regulations that require quality standards on food that’s sold.
But even if this entire article confused you, it really breaks down to this: If you like the Internet exactly how it’s always been, then you’re a fan of net neutrality – whether you want to believe it or not.
Because, yes, it’s really that simple.