It’s not often that leaders of countries defend equality over private enterprise, but that’s exactly what President Obama did this week. Obama announced that “the strongest possible rules” to protect net neutrality had to be made and enforced.
This statement comes after various telecom companies have been pushing to create “fast lanes” for higher paying customers.
Fast Lanes Defined
Fast lanes would, essentially, allow customers that pay more to have faster internet, and those that do not pay the high price would be ushered into “slow lanes” until the upgrade was made. If you did not pay that premium price, for example, you would be stuck with a slower internet until the higher price was paid. Obama went further to state that no internet websites should be blocked or unavailable (and that nobody should have the power to block those sites), and that no “tolls” should have to be paid to access anything on the web.
Currently, the FCC is pushing for fast lanes. Why? Because companies like Netflix are taking up extra space, and internet providers are charging the Netflix-like companies for that extra space. What does this have to do with you? Instead of asking Netflix to foot the bill, those charges would trickle down to the consumer were net neutrality not supported. Obama has asked the FCC to keep the internet free, and this means no fast lanes or extra costs for consumers. It is strongly believed that the FCC will take Obama’s suggestions to heart.
The Net Neutrality Battle
Allowing companies to “own” access to the Internet, prevent some people from accessing certain sites, and charge companies to access the Internet is what those opposed to net neutrality are against. Those fighting for neutrality believe that the internet should stay open and free, and that no company (like Verizon or Comcast) should be able to own any part of it - these companies should be service providers (or, as Obama suggests, utility providers). But, there’s a flipside to this coin.
Those that are against net neutrality believe that companies like Netflix should have to pay more for clogging up the internet pipelines. If these companies take more space and make things slower, shouldn’t they have to pay more? That’s the argument against net neutrality, but the response to this line of thinking is that the internet should support innovation from companies like Netflix, and, thus, those companies should not have to pay more.
So, there you have it - internet providers want to be compensated by companies that take more data (and individuals) while having the ability to block certain sites, and most people and companies state that the internet should be free and clear of any restrictions.
Obama can only suggest that the FCC take his recommendations. He can’t force the FCC to do so. Right now, we will wait and see what the FCC decides, though it’s likely they will go along with Obama’s stance. Where do you stand on the issue? Do you support or fight net neutrality?