Recently in the news and all over the internet there have been a lot of talk about something called “Net Neutrality.” While some are familiar with the term others have little to no knowledge about it. Net Neutrality is actually very important and affects almost every internet user in the United States! It is vital that people are educated about it and that is what I plan to help in doing.
When first hearing about Net Neutrality, it can sound quite confusing but the more time you spend learning about it the more sense it will make.
First, you have to understand the basic way the internet works. When sending or receiving data over the internet the data is sent in “packets.” For different types of data there are different types of packets (but going to far into that will make this confusing). Basically Net Neutrality is the idea that all packets should be treated equally no matter what sort of website or service they are being sent from. Net Neutrality has been working well for many years, but now it is threatened by people who have and want more money (go figure!). These “people” are the cable companies such as Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, etc. They plan to end Net Neutrality for their own benefit.
This is how they plan to do it. They are going to create two “lanes” for internet data. In one lane will be the companies, websites, and apps that pay these cable companies to be in this lane. In this lane data will move fast. Data will get from place to place with ease. However, in the other lane will be companies, websites, and apps that can’t afford to be in the fast lane (either they can’t afford it or the company likely has a rivalry with the cable company). In this lane data will move slower than the fast lane. It will be clogged up and getting data from place to place will take a longer period of time.
Why is this bad? Well for people like me and you it is because cable companies plan to slow down your connection to some websites because they didn’t pay (And what have you done wrong? Nothing.) This will also hurt small businesses and startup websites that can’t afford to be in the fast lane causing less internet traffic to go to their site. It will become harder and harder to become successful on the internet if all the traffic is going somewhere else!
The debate has been going on for months in the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Internet companies like Google, Netflix, Amazon, and others are teaming up with normal internet users like you and me and protesting against the goal of the cable companies. For a further explanation watch this hilarious video with comedian John Oliver describing what Net Neutrality is: