Net Neutrality: History, Present Impacts, and Future

What is Network Neutrality

Network neutrality is a complicated and debated subject matter and is also a significant feature of an unrestricted and accessible Internet. Net neutrality has to do with allowing access, option, as well as openness of Internet offerings that enable users to profit from complete access to applications, content, and services offered on the Internet. How much do you really know about it?

In addition to that, network neutrality or “net neutrality” is frequently used as a comprehensive categorization in public policy as well as regulatory debates regarding these matters. On the other hand, network neutrality is an extensive term that can stand for different things depending on a person’s perspective. Deliberations concerning network neutrally regularly touch on matters concerning competition of service as well as user preference, effect on innovation, freedom of expression, non-discriminatory traffic management practices, rating, and general business models. From this network neutrality discussion, a number of people think that policies as well as regulatory measures are needed to maintain the unrestricted Internet as well as to guarantee that it stays as an instrument for economic growth, free expression, and innovation. Concentrating on the result of network management practices instead of the technical measures exercised to produce that effect will make needed flexibility in network operations possible.

The Birth of Network Neutrality

It was Columbia University law professor Tim Wu who made up the term “net neutrality” in a 2003 thesis on the subject of online discrimination. During that time, several broadband providers, which include Comcast, interdicted home Internet users from gaining access to virtual private networks (VPNs); while others, such as AT&T, prohibited Internet users from using Wi-Fi routers. Professor Wu was bothered about broadband providers’ propensity to limit new technologies.

The Abolition of Network Neutrality

Many months have passed since the repeal of network neutrality. The first thing that happened is the worst fire in the history of California, when Verizon was controlling and restraining the broadband of Santa Clara County Fire Department’s. In fact, Verizon and the fire department took part in a discussion, which lasted for seven months, with reference to whether Verizon ought to be restraining the broadband of the fire department in the middle of massive forest fires. In the end, what Verizon stated was that they would stop controlling and restraining the broadband if the fire department gave beyond double of what they were paying before for the broadband service. Unfortunately, the fire department could not go to the FCC because it has given up its power over broadband. Also, they would not go to the FTC for the reason that it takes too long to resolve complaints. For this reason, if Verizon regulate and restrains your broadband, there is nothing that FCC and FTC can do about it.

The second example of where the lack of network neutrality really had impacts on public safety was when several mobile carriers, such as AT&T, Sprint, as well as T-Mobile sold the information as to the exact location of their customers.

The third implication of the abolition of network neutrality is what happened with regard to Frontier Communications, which is generally in rural areas, but in California as well. It is a company that is not dearly loved by the public. What took place was a customer purchased his own router, which costs two hundred dollars. But then again, Frontier kept on charging him ten dollars per month to have it rented. Because of that, this particular customer nitpicked to the FCC. Authorities from the FCC told Frontier that they had to deal with that complaint, to which Frontier responded, “Too bad. This is a charge we make and you have to continue to pay it.” So essentially, the FCC is giving their inaccuracy of the broadband business to the broadband industry.

The Present Impacts of Net Neutrality

The termination of network neutrality could have a significant effect when it comes to competition and innovation as well. 

One case in point is that Internet service providers which have their own video call services could prefer and decide to slow down the speed of their customers’ Internet connections while they are using a rival service, such as Netflix. A move like that would downright spoil the Netflix user experience. As a result, this could lead to the company losing its valued customers.

With the absence of network neutrality, startup websites can be entirely paralyzed as well. This is for the reason that well-known sites would be in a much better place to discover and achieve advantageous deals with Internet service providers for the purpose of having their services prioritized rather than others, as compared to websites that are not established yet. 

In addition to that, there are also suspicions that Internet service providers could possibly use their authority to repress protesters and keep a tight rein on free speech by taking control of what people can and cannot post on the Internet. Below are just some of the effects of network neutrality:

  • Almost all businesses in every industry are more and more being operated online. Because of that, any modification to online access guidelines by Internet service providers will have impacts on all businesses at some point.
  • Network neutrality is a politically argumentative and controversial subject matter. Companies must be careful when arguing about this topic for the reason that any viewpoint takes the risk of turning customers away. This is for the most part vital because partakers in this discussion seem enthusiastic to influence corporate statuses through activism on social media.
  • The changes to network neutrality could slow down a company’s website, and this could also have unfavorable effects on user experience. That means a disadvantage for smaller businesses because they need to pay higher rates to be able to get fast Internet speed.

The Future of Network Neutrality

The future of network neutrality now lies in the hands of the courts, the states, and Congress, which is taking into consideration no less than three proposals which have something to do with network neutrality. In fact, one proposal, which is supported mainly by Democrats, would invalidate the FCC’s decision in 2017; thus leaving the 2015 rules established. The lawgiving already approved in the Senate with backing and defense from three Republicans as well as all of the Senate’s Democrats and Independents. The House of Representatives, in which Republicans are more than Democrats (235 to 193), will cast their votes next. If it succeeds in the House, it would still call for President Trump’s authorization or a high number of votes from Congress to abolish his veto.

On the other hand, Republicans have their own concepts and ways on how to tackle the subject matter. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), in particular, put forward a proposed law that would prohibit broadband providers from barring lawful content. However, this bill would not overtly proscribe fast lanes. That means it fails to live up to delegating true network neutrality. Aside from that, it would also relentlessly restrain the states’ as well as the FCC’s power to control and standardize Internet providers in the future. This would make it more difficult to implement firmer network neutrality guidelines. 


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Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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