What is Net Neutrality?

A key principle in the fight for freedom of the Internet is “network neutrality.” Net neutrality is the belief that Internet communications should be treated equally regardless of the type and with no discrimination on the characteristics of each. This is a necessary policy that is used to prevent Internet service providers from charging different users different rates based on their consumption of bandwidth or type of content being received by them. Net neutrality aims to make the World Wide Web more equal for all users.

A two-tiered Internet service model is favored by most Internet service providers which allows them the ability to bill customers a premium based on the faster speed of delivery of access. This allows for the creation of Internet “fast lanes” that specific companies use to promote. An option that is opposite to this is zero rating which means customers won’t be charged for using their connection. This option gives ISP’s the ability to create more tempting, lower cost plans of data that encourage users to be more efficient with their data usage. Businesses can increase profits by paying for their websites and services to be zero-rated.

Two-tiered models are more costly than one-tiered models, but the benefits to having net neutrality are abundant. This means Internet service providers should not be allowed the ability to block or slow down the access to specific content. This would be illegal because of the discrimination it allows for. While the federal government does not regulate the Internet, it does possess the power to put a price cap on it.

Internet service providers are not always in favor of net neutrality regardless of all the benefits it provides. They would prefer to thrive off of the two-tiered model of business. It allows them to charge much greater rates depending on priority placement of quicker speeds on carrier network pipes. The two-tiered model also gives ISPs the ability to create internet “fast-lanes” which promote specific companies and make ISPs more money. Offering the ability to create attractive plans and implement more data in your plan, zero rating does not charge customers based on their usage of data.

The mid-nineteenth century brought about the public discourse surrounding net neutrality even though it is a relatively new concept to the United States. The foundation of the national communications systems was built by the Postal Act of 1845. It declared a federal monopoly above the service provision and content non-discrimination. The two major sides of debate for this subject today are proponents and opponents.

The “Title II” regulations imposed by the Obama administration sparked the debate over net neutrality although the conversation started in the 1990s. The “Title II” regulations provide rules that protect consumers and businesses from being discriminated against due to the content they consume. It prevents ISPs from favoring or blocking content that is legal to view, although there are some exceptions as small businesses are not able to acquire net-neutral services. ISPs are not even allowed to black content or websites on their very own networks. These rules were implemented to provide protection of consumers when it comes to broadband internet services.