Net Neutrality

It’s 99.9% sure that the FCC will vote to repeal its net neutrality rules put in place during the Ombama administration this Thursday, December 14.

The Republicans outnumber the Dems on this one, and the new Trump appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai has been an outspoken critic of Net Neutrality, so there is little question about the outcome.

Some experts say it could radically reshape the internet.  Repealing Net Neutrality will give telecommunications companies even more control over our online experience.  Some warn us to expect fewer choices and higher prices.  They say we’ll soon be screaming like Calvin  over here.

The philosophy behind Net neutrality is that internet service providers should, in general, treat all data sent over the internet equally.  There should be no difference between sending an email, access a website, making a phone call or watching movies on Netflix. The fear is that without some rules in place, ISPs will block or slow down access to some sites, giving preferential treatment to their own sites and services.

The most powerful telecommunications companies own media companies and ISPs themselves.  Verizon owns AOL and Yahoo, Comcast owns NBC Universal, and AT&T is trying to gobble up Time Warner.  They have an significant interest in what sites you visit online.   You might end up with quick access to Yahoo, but Google could be very slow.  You may get a reasonable charge to stream a video on NBC, but pay extra to stream video on Amazon… and so on.

Of course, it’s all about money.  That’s capitalism for you. These companies are shifty enough with their rates, why give them increased latitude to rob us?

For the most part, the Internet has been open and free.  We could see a day soon when everything you watch is based on what you can buy.  Loss of net neutrality could also mean tolls.   For instance, if you’re a Comcast customer and want to see something on Netflix or listen to a song on Spotify, those companies will have to pay a toll to Comcast in order to provide you with that content.  It could be a big mess.

Although there has been a large protest over repealing Net Neutrality, evidently it has not been enough to stop what most believe will happen on Thursday.

Maybe it won’t be a bad as they say.  Maybe it will be worse.

I expect my upcoming cable bills to be higher, much higher.  That way I will be pleasantly surprised if they stay the same.

Borrowing from Bob Dylan, the Internet “sure was a good idea, ‘till greed got in the way.”