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Net neutrality. Net what?


By George Craig
web posted March 23, 2015

TECH PROFESSOR Ė You hear the words net neutrality in the news all the time lately. They talk about it on the radio station, in the newspaper and in news reports on TV, but what does it mean? They just keep using the term Net Neutrality but no one ever explains it. So here I go. All in all net neutrality simply means that everything on the internet is fair and equal and that nothing gets prioritized.

Everything gets treated the same. All traffic, videos, music and information gets treated the same. The big problem lately has been that some ISPs (Internet service providers) have been charging certain companies like Netflix for priority. Some ISPs are causing problems on their networks so that traffic going to and from certain streaming companies and content companies like Netflix gets slowed down or just interrupted. So what happened is Netflix customers started complaining hey I can't watch this and hey this isn't working different times of the day and night. What was happening was Netflix customers had to suffer because some companies didn't want their networks congested with all the streaming traffic, unless they were going to make more money off of it.

Some companies that I will not name have been accused of intentionally slowing down traffic they did not like. The idea behind this was that Netflix and other streaming companies would start to lose customers unless they paid the accused companies for priority on the accused companyís network. So now you have content and streaming companies that are paying ISPís for access to their customers. Let me put it this way, you pay for internet to access Netflix but then Netflix has to pay them also for access to you. 

Now a lot of people didnít think that was fair. This practice was called fast lanes. Now companies can spend money and pay for faster access to consumers. Well thatís all good for big corporations with billions on hand but what about the little guys. The startups would have a lot harder time competing, giving the big companies a big unfair advantage. 

Donít get me wrong, Iím all for capitalism. I didnít say it was perfect but it works better than most other ways. Now having said that, the internet has always been intended to be open access for all. This is the best way to breed innovation and put big and small companies on the same playing field.

Now on February 26th 2015 the FCC ruled that it will now regulate the internet close to the same ways that it does phone. This would be under what is called Title 2. Meaning that the FCC is putting a stop to fast lanes either voluntary or forced. The FCC may at some point also regulate price and many other things. Now of course most ISPís donít like this at all. Now they have to answer to the government since they didnít want to answer to their customers, but I digress. Everyone has their own opinion on if this is good or bad but I think itís here to stay, pending lawsuits from the ISPís.
 
Below I have included a link to the FCC ruling. If you happen to be suffering from insomnia one night then give it a read and it should do the trick. I drank a 5 hour energy and still didnít make it past the 8th of 400 pages.

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0312/FCC-15-24A1.pdf

Until next week, class dismissed.





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