Net Neutrality Repeal: What Could Happen and How It Could Affect You

By: Joseph Sanford


Net Neutrality has become a large issue in the past couple weeks, with vastly different opinions and arguments flying around the internet. As explained by Steve Lohr writer for The New York Times, “the net neutrality rules were passed in 2015 during the Obama Administration when the Democrats controlled the F.C.C.” what these rules entitled were “to regulate broadband service as a utility making the internet the digital equivalent of electricity and the telephone.” The most important part is the rule that stops telecom companies from charging individually for different internet services such as watching Netflix and surfing Facebook.


After doing research on the F.C.C. website, two members of the F.C.C. released opposing opinions on the topic of net neutrality. Chairman Pai is one chairman wanting to get rid of net neutrality. He argues that it does not allow, “smaller business providers” to “navigate a thicket of complex rules”. He also argues that nothing like this existed before the 2015 net neutrality rules and the internet economy was able to flourish with the regulations.


Commissioner Clyburn of the F.C.C. is against dismantling the Net Neutrality rules. He states that it allows “throttling” or slowing down the internet for certain people or on certain websites. He says it inhibit small business who rely on the internet to grow. What is most important to take from this article is it says that repealing net neutrality “threatens innovation”, which is the exact opposite of what Chairman Pai explains.


What Might Happen?


The biggest concern is that the internet will become pay-to-play technology with two tiers: one that has speedy service and one that doesn’t. The high-speed lane would be occupied by big internet and media companies, and affluent households. For everyone else, there would be the slow lane.


The brand-name internet companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, analysts say, will comfortably be able to pay the higher rent. It will not affect their business, though it may crimp their profits. Avoiding higher prices is one reason the major internet companies have been champions of net neutrality. But higher prices may be prohibitive for start-up companies and new voices in the media and entertainment worlds. The government-backed guarantee of equal access is why public interest groups, nongovernmental organizations, charities and millions of private citizens wrote to the F.C.C. in support of the net neutrality rules.


So Whom Do You Trust?


Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who is credited with coining the phrase “net neutrality,” said the repeal plan not only rolls back the Obama-era rules, it goes further. It specifically permits broadband carriers to block media content, Mr. Wu said, an added power which was not the case during the administration of George W. Bush.


Yet if the government is in retreat, then consumers are left to trust the behavior of the internet-access companies like Charter and AT&T. In their filings with the F.C.C., the companies have claimed that faith would be well founded. Market incentives, Charter told the F.C.C., push the companies to provide the best service to its customers, catering to consumer demand.


But a weakness in the free-market argument, industry analysts say, is that in some regional and rural markets, households have only one internet provider available to them. That undermines the theory that competition will protect consumers. Roger L. Kay, an independent technology analyst, predicted that larger bills — not content blocking — would be the most likely result. If the big internet and media companies will have to pay their carriers more for high-speed services, the expenses will trickle down to households.


Consumers, Mr. Kay said, “will end up paying higher prices for essentially the same service.”


To learn more: read the full New York Times article here: