Yesterday, the FCC rolled back some regulations that protected an open, free internet. So called “net neutrality” rules. On the outset, less government seems like a good thing, especially in the state of things these days. But sometimes we as consumers do need to be protected by some rules. The commissioner’s propaganda he’s selling that less regulation will mean more innovation is simply a farce. (Sorta like the idea of trickle down economics. Cutting corporate taxes will put more money in the pockets of the middle class because of how much companies will save? Yeah right!) Here are the three things that are going to happen now.
1. We’re going to start paying for access bundles. Take a look at this REAL service plan from an internet service provider in Portugal after their government got rid of net neutrality rules.
2. ISPs will have the ability to block content that competes with them. Here’s a hypothetical. Let’s say Comcast NBC-Universal as the big conglomerate decides to start their own streaming service (a la Netflix). They will now be able to slow down your access to, say, Disney’s streaming service. Or, more likely, block it unless you pay extra. They can also force Disney to pay a toll to access a fast lane of distribution, which they’ll do because no one will subscribe to them if the quality of their streaming is terrible.
3. Small businesses will be unable to compete. Think about it. Why haven’t the likes of Facebook or Google come along as a loud voice of advocacy for the consumer, lobbying to protect net neutrality rules? Because they can afford to pay for the fast lane! And they want to be the primary place you go. Go back to the scenario. Let’s say some innovative entrepreneurs want to start up a new streaming service. But they don’t have anywhere close to the billions–with a b–of capital in their coffers. They can’t afford to pay for a fast lane, so their content is throttled. People who check their service out get low quality content. They don’t bother subscribing and they don’t want to pay the ISP another $5 bundle. And the business is dead before it can even begin.
This is is our reality now. The telcom lobby is strong. The FCC refused to look into fraudulent comments made that supported the rollback of these regulations. They ignored the will of the people in our democracy, fooled others with the story that “deregulation is better”, and filled their campaign accounts with sweet telcom contributions. The commissioner has stated that if we don’t like what our ISP does, we can simply choose another. This is incredibly stupid, as so much of America only has one choice for an ISP. Two at best. It’s virtually an unregulated monopoly (and in my opinion, internet service deserves to be looked at as a utility. Electricity, gas, water, internet).
We can only hope the lawsuits are numerous and this ruling is tied up in litigation for a long time until someone can actually represent us and undo this tragedy.