Net Neutrality is a hot topic in the world of US politics these days but what exactly is it? The issue of Net Neutrality is said to have united those on the Right and those on the Left, Republican, and Democrat. Net Neutrality is the premise that internet providers can not throttle or slow down certain websites based on that internet provider’s economic and or political motives.
The greater issue of the free market vs. government intervention is demonstrated perfectly in this hot button issue. Those against Net Neutrality, such as current US president Donald Trump, argue that having Net Neutrality is too much government intervention in the free market. Furthermore, internet cable company providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, have very valid arguments that certain websites, such as YouTube and NetFlix, are essentially bandwidth hogs. As you may very well know, both YouTube and NetFlix are video streaming websites which demand a great amount of bandwidth from Internet providers. Comcast and Verizon’s argument goes a bit like this: Imagine two customers, both pay the same rate, but one customer is a 16-year-old who uses YouTube all day and the other customer is an 80-year-old grandmother who does nothing more with her internet service than read static websites that tell stories about history.
The infrastructure needed to support the 16-year old’s internet usage is obviously greater than the 80-year-old woman’s internet usage, thus the profit margins between these two customers are not the same for Internet providers. Therefore, according to the likes of Comcast and Verizon, YouTube and NetFlix should have to pay additional for their increased bandwidth needs. This would essentially result in the 16-year-old having to pay more for his internet “package,” as the cost would be passed on to the consumer and not to YouTube and Netflix directly.
For those who are fighting to keep Net Neutrality, their fear is that the Internet providers will simply try to introduce their own version of YouTube and NetFlix by offering clone services for cheap. There is also the dark nefarious fear that entire news websites will be “blocked” out by Internet companies that do not like the politics of such banned websites.
As it stands right now, the internet is essential “even” or somewhat “open” in America right now, but without Net Neutrality the internet could resemble something more like a cable TV package. As you may know, cable TV packages are the dread of the entire consumer industry. Overpriced and bundled with a bunch of crap, most cable TV packages are despised by Americans a million times over. Without Net Neutrality we could be looking at a future where getting YouTube and NetFlix will cost extra. It is my dear opinion that the free market people, who argue against having Net Neutrality, have one fatal flaw in their argument: There is no free market in the world of Internet providers.
Internet providers are monopolies who collude with the government to keep competition out. Therefore, internet providers need to either be regulated with Net Neutrality, or some derivative of it, or they need to be broken up into smaller companies like Bell Atlantic was in the 1980s. The future of Net Neutrality is uncertain as the battle to maintain it or destroy it rages on in Washington D.C. If you are not American, you may think that this has nothing to do with you, but you would be wrong. The future of Net Neutrality in America will lead the way for Internet providers all over the globe, as the US is always a trend maker in many markets.