Net Neutrality, Gone So Young

New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules unveiled this week effectively marked an end to the 25 five year old net neutrality standards that have kept the Internet fair, open, and accessible to everyone.

These new rules will allow major content producers such as Google or Netflix to pay service providers like Comcast or Time Warner a higher premium for faster streaming service to their customers.

While you would think faster service should make everyone happy, these new rules are going to turn the internet into a buying scheme where the highest bidder wins. Larger content producers will be able to pay these higher premiums for faster service so that there content is the one Web consumers see first. Smaller content producers will be forced in second place because of their limited capital. Essentially, on Wednesday the internet became pay to play.

The internet has remained consumer and producer friendly since it’s boom in the 1990s because of the neutral delivery of content. In the days of net neutrality, a small content-producer was able to stream their videos on their webpage at the same speed as Netflix, however under these new rules, there will be two speeds: a slow lane for content producers who cannot afford the high premiums for faster service, and a fast lane for content producer who can. Ultimate web power is now in the hands of those who can afford it.

The Washington Post reported that, “in a proposal to be voted on May 15, the chairman of the FCC said new so-called net neutrality rules would prohibit broadband providers from straight out blocking sites and slowing down content in an anticompetitive manner. In a press briefing Thursday, the FCC is expected to outline criteria for its determination of unfair and anticompetitive business practices.”

While FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is optimistic that these new rules will not diminish web competition, he seems to be forgetting how our capitalistic economy usually functions. Competition will survive the fall of net neutrality, he is correct, but competition will now be driven by capital not content.

A blogger for The New Yorker explains the bleak future the internet now faces, read it here.

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