The end of net neutrality and the future of the internet

Maura Healey
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey testifies before a legislative panel out how Massachusetts might respond after the FCC repealed Net Neutrality  COURTESY OF HTTP://WWW.RECORDER.COM/


Net neutrality has been a popular topic in the media, especially since last December. In 2015, during the Obama administration, the net neutrality policy was put into effect and was considered a turning point in protecting the free market ofthe internet. Net neutrality was a law that ensured consumers and businesses online received equal access to internet service.  Late last year, legislators repealed a law protecting the rights of internet users and online content producers across the country.

Repeal of net neutrality and its effects

One of the most substantial effects will be a significant slowing of connection speed. Net neutrality gave the government the ability to oversee the internet as a utility, much like electricity and water. In many ways, the law previously protected smaller undeveloped online businesses from receiving a lower quality of internet connection on consumer’s computers.

The repeal of net neutrality represents a changing of hands in who gets to control internet service and the price of that service. Internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Verizon, will now be in control of the quality of internet service provided and more importantly, the price that will be charged for a higher quality of service.

In this changing of hands lies the concerns of upcoming online business owners and content producers who would be unable to afford a quality of service needed for their content and business to thrive. Dr. Altahat, assistant professor in UW-Parkside’s computer science department, explained how ISPs could control internet speed as “a highway…[on the] fast lanes you have to pay a toll, and the slow lanes are free and for everyone…to get on the fast lane you’ll have to pay more.” In this way, only the richest content producers will be able to afford the fast lane or the quality of internet speed our society demands.

Effect on students

One of the more concerning outcomes of the net neutrality repeal could be for students looking to produce new content on the internet after graduation. Dr. Altahat warned that many new and upcoming businesses will suffer in multiple ways “being unable to afford to pay ISPs more to have their content delivered faster will cause many of these business to simply fall out.”

He believes that leaving the control and pricing of internet speeds to ISPs will “monopolize internet speed” and the smaller upcoming businesses who are unable to afford faster connection are bound to fail. These effects are not bound to typical content developed online, but also to publications dedicated to providing news to the public, taking away a fair chance for new and upcoming news providers to prosper under the giant media conglomerates.

Future of the internet

In the same ways big companies such as Netflix, Google, Amazon and more would be able to afford the rising cost of better internet service, so would big conglomerates such as CNN, NBC, and FOX. Dr. Altahat explains how this would affect the information we get and the way we obtain it, “the government, through these big ISPs and big media companies, will be able to deliver us content in cleaner faster way.” This leaves very little room for alternative or smaller publications to provide news and information to the general public, especially if they are failing to afford proper internet speed from ISPs.

The repeal of the 2015 net neutrality law represents a new and changing time for one of the most integral parts of our lives in the 21st century. The internet is an amazing tool used to access endless amounts of information and connect people from across the globe with each other. As Dr. Altahat puts it, “it is not just for watching movies, the internet is in every part of our life; it’s part of our industrial, health, and educational grid…our entire economy is built upon it.” With so much hanging in the balance, the end of net neutrality brings a new and different future for the internet.


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