The Net Neutrality Episode [Video]
4:54 min watch - In this episode of Two Curious Minds:
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Is it the end of the internet as we know it?
The repeal of Net Neutrality - Between cable news and social media you’ve probably heard something about it. But what does it all mean for your life? These are the questions we wanted answers to, so we put the repeal of net neutrality on our list of curiosity and went to work. What we learned was, like most things in life, there are two sides to this controversial story. Join us on our journey of discovery -- This is Two Curious Minds!
Let me set the scene for you
Net Neutrality Protections were implemented in 2015 by the FCC along with President Obama. Think of the internet as a highway and websites like vehicles. Net Neutrality says - Keep all the lanes open and free. Every car on the road should be treated equally and abide by the same speed limits.
Under Net Neutrality - Internet providers can't block, slow down or prioritize any web traffic. For example, Comcast can’t slow down your Netflix service and make its own streaming video service stream faster. They also couldn’t force Netflix to pay more money to be part of an internet fast lane. That’s called “paid prioritization.”
All support Net Neutrality because it keeps the internet open for all, allowing consumers to pick the winners and losers without the influence of the internet provider. On the surface an “open internet sounds like a win-win for business’ and consumers, like you and me. But it’s only one side of the story.
On the other hand, you have telecommunication companies like:
Who argue that companies like Netflix and Youtube use up to 80% of their networks broadband bandwidth, but don’t pay any extra to do so. This leads to network congestion. Which leads to the need for more infrastructure, which cost money. Essentially internet providers are saying “Why should they get a free ride? We’re doing all the heavy lifting. Heavy bandwidth consumers should chip in.”
In December 2017 the Republican majority FCC repealed the Obama-era Net Neutrality protections. According to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, this move will "stop the government from micromanaging the internet." and that Net Neutrality was based on “ hysterical prophecies of doom.”
The repeal of net neutrality will lead to two significant changes:
Coming back to our highway analogy - The repeal of net neutrality will allow internet providers to essentially build a pay to play toll road for content providers where they can charge an additional fee to transport certain forms of content at a higher speed through its network, while simultaneously filling the other lanes with speed bumps.
Opponents of the repeal fear it will lead to the “cable-ization” of the internet. Content providers would need to negotiate individual deals with internet service providers to reach customers effectively. Supporters of the repeal argue that it will help broadband investments and innovation that would increase internet access and overall data speeds. By ending the ban on paid prioritization, the FCC hopes to make it easier for consumers to benefit from services that need prioritization like autonomous vehicles and remote health monitoring.
So who are the winners and losers of the Net Neutrality repeal?
And what about consumers like you and me?
Honestly, the jury is still out on that one. This move could lead to overall better service and infrastructure, but it could also lead to increased service fees from companies like Netflix who will pass down the increased cost to its users.
So can we cross Net Neutrality off our list? No way! This issue will likely end up being decided in court or by legislation in Congress. On a side note, this is another example of political reasoning taking priority over what’s best for the consumer. But the system usually finds a way to balance itself out with time. For what it’s worth internet service providers say they are committed to practices that would preserve an “open internet.” -- The question is, do you believe them?
While you’re here, join the conversation! Tell us what you think about Net Neutrality in the comments below. If you want to explore more stories by the Fratzke Brothers, check out our latest videos on YouTube.
Until next time, we’ve been the Fratzke Brothers, and you’ve been awesome.
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