This Thursday on Dec 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to vote to repeal the rules of Net Neutrality put in place by the Obama Administration governing the way you consume information online.
The FCC will most probably proceed with its intention of repealing Net Neutrality, despite protests from consumer advocate groups and many Democratic senators. So, what exactly is Net Neutrality? How does it affect you? And why is the fight over it so heated?
Say you watch an in-depth review of the iPhone X which convinces you to buy the phone. You visit the Apple’s website to buy the phone only to find out that your phone company redirects you to Samsung because it has an exclusive deal with Samsung or that your phone provider charges you extra just to give you access to Apple’s website.
Phone companies must stay unbiased just like ISPs are under Net Neutrality rules – they can’t block you from getting unrestricted access to the websites you want, content you wish to consume and much more.
Having said that, all that could change on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
What Exactly Are They Voting On?
What’s happening is the FCC is voting to remove Net Neutrality rules, which are a set of internet regulations for internet providers that currently prohibit them from blocking websites and slowing a user’s speed down.
In case Net Neutrality rules are repealed, Internet service providers like Charter, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon will get the go-ahead to provide users with a fast and slow internet connection, upon their sole discretion.
You might see internet providers offer packages of different services like if you want the social media package, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the streaming package, for example, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, etc. While these examples are speculative, this is just to give an idea of how things might turn out once Net Neutrality is revoked.
AT&T and Net Neutrality
As most people know it, AT&T is not much of a fan of Net Neutrality. The telecommunications company has been accused by the FCC of trespassing open internet protections and has influentially petitioned against the present-day rules.
On July 11, 2017, AT&T got aboard the Net Neutrality “Day of Action” protest. The telecommunications company’s website displayed a banner saying that “AT&T supports an open internet,” and it sent a message to DirecTV customers mentioning the same thing.
AT&T further added, “Tell Congress to adopt permanent protections.” Not only this, the company created a dedicated page ‘Open Internet’ to gain support for the internet to remain transparent and free from blocking, censorship and discriminatory throttling.
— Lindsay (@lindsayxmurray) December 12, 2017
AT&T is already giving priority treatment to HBO streaming, and the Time Warner deal isn’t even final. Expect more of this after net neutrality is fully axed. pic.twitter.com/WXaSK2FNrI
— april glaser (@aprilaser) December 12, 2017
On the other hand, some groups believe that AT&T’s stance on Net Neutrality is misleading and inaccurate. Fight for the Future’s representative, Evan Greer, coordinating the day of action, said in a statement:
AT&T’s participation was the latest step in a “campaign of misinformation. I have to admit; this is so ridiculous I'm laughing out loud.
Greer further added that:
AT&T and other companies like Comcast and Verizon have waged an all-out war on net neutrality protections because they want to be able to charge Internet users and startups extra fees, and squeeze all of us for more money for less Internet.
Congress took $101 million from Comcast/AT&T/Version to kill net neutrality: Here's what your lawmaker got https://t.co/iIk0sv8NKM
— Arctic Friend (@FriendEden100) December 11, 2017
How Is This Likely to Turnaround?
AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn said:
While the argument around an open internet has been going on for nearly 15 years, the dispute is never really about what the rules should be or whether we should have an open internet.
Instead, the debate focuses on whether open internet rules should derive from the 80-year-old Communications Act or some other theory of Congressional authority because the current law predates the internet. Instead of having this debate again, Congress should act now to provide the transparent statutory authority that guarantees an open internet for all consumers.
Who Will Benefit from the Elimination of Net Neutrality?
The country’s most prominent ISPs, including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, have positioned themselves to acquire the highest benefit. Once Net Neutrality is revoked, these ISPs would easily be capable of favoring online content and services they own/prefer over others.
As a matter of fact, the FCC under the Obama-appointed chairman, Tom Wheeler, had already determined that AT&T and Verizon incorrectly preferred exclusive content in possible violation of the 2015 Net Neutrality rules.
People have taken it to Twitter expressing how significant it is to have Net Neutrality in place.
ALERT: The FCC is about to hand the Internet over to the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast. The Vote is this Thursday. All the free stuff (Instagram, Google, Snapchat) you enjoy could go "poof". Call the FCC at 202-418-1000 and tell them NOT to destroy #NetNeutrality. pic.twitter.com/LB5tX38Nvs
— William Stein, CETL (@williamastein) December 12, 2017
if you don't understand what net neutrality is.. imagine twitter being ran by AT&T, instagram being ran by Comcast, and snapchat being ran by Verizon. the only way to use just these 3 apps, you'll have to have a paid service with each company.
— honey dip 🍒 (@babyzooted) December 6, 2017
Would ISPs be throttling your internet speed?
Absolutely. ISPs would get full control over internet speed lanes, and they will provide speeds accordingly. Learn how to bypass net neutrality.