Net Neutrality is a term used to describe the idea of treating every Internet user the same. Under this idea, all users should have the right to access all of the Internet's content and they should be able to do so at the same speed and without additional fees. There are 2-sides to the Net Neutrality debate. There are telecommunications companies and then everybody else.
I imagine that many, if not most, of you have already heard about the "Net Neutrality" debate/bill that's currently heating things up in Washington... at least in some form or another. Today I plan to shed some light on the subject, by introducing the ideas behind the debate, as well as sharing my own personal thoughts regarding "Net Neutrality".
What is "Net Neutrality"?
In the simplest terms... net neutrality is a term used to describe the idea of treating every Internet user the same. Under this idea, all users should have the right to access all of the Internet's content and they should be able to do so at the same speed and without additional fees.
The Debate / Bill
There are 2-sides to the Net Neutrality debate. There are telecommunications companies, specifically your telephone/internet providers, (Side A) and then there's everybody else (Side B).
Side A - The Telecommunications Industry
The telephone companies believe that they should be the ones to regulate the Internet. Essentially, these companies want to end the idea of "net neutrality", and create a two-tier system that would allow these Internet providers to charge website owners at different levels pending on how fast they wanted their content delivered.
The Telecommunication industry is responsible for creating the infrastructure the Internet runs on, and they spent billions of dollars doing so. Now they find themselves seeking additional revenue to pay for the necessary upgrades needed to handle today's Internet, specifically the new broadband and video-rich content. Setting up a two-tier system, such as the one they're proposing, will allow them to generate it.
Side B - Everyone Else
Obviously by "Everyone Else" I mean those that don't stand to profit an excess of $2 Billion a year from ending "Net Neutrality". These people, and frankly I'm one of them, believe that the Internet is an intangible space in which everyone should have equal access to everyone else, regardless of how large or small they are or how traditional or unconventional they become.
"Side B" believes that on the Internet, a business shouldn't need the permission from their Internet provider to communicate with a customer or to begin a new and innovative service. This group wants to keep the Internet as is and without additional taxation and limitations set forth by the Telecommunication industry.
How does this affect you as a user?
Should the Telecommunication industry win this debate, they'll forever change the Internet as we know it. Everything from shopping to browsing to researching will have changed. Small businesses and content providers who cannot afford the new Internet tax will be limited by slower Internet access and thus make their sites less accessible as well as less appealing. To sum up this idea a bit futher, Telecommunication companies want to turn the information super highway into two lane road... one being a fast lane in which website owners must pay to use, and the second being a slow lane that nobody wants to use.
Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, describes it best in his recent statement:
"The phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all broadband Internet access, want the power to choose who gets onto the high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build tollbooths to block the on-ramps for those whom they don't want to compete with and who can't pay this new Internet tax. Money and monopoly, not ideas and independence, will be the currency of their Internet."
What Can You Do About It?
If your one of the millions of Internet users who side with "Side B" and oppose the idea of a two-tier Internet that's based on additional fees than I encourage you to rise up and make your voice heard. Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, and eBay have already begun leading this fight, and hopefully as more and more take an active part in this issue the more congress will realize that this is a bad idea. Its Our Net.org.