Will Net Neutrality Receive its Due Justice?
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Will Net Neutrality Receive its Due Justice?

By Mainak Biswas May 25, 2015 - 1,462 views

Now your experience of watching videos online could soon become a hit or flop experience….you might experience either a flawless and smooth network or it could be extremely frustrating with interrupted services; and the reason behind this uncertainty has nothing to do with technology but with money making policy. It is to check how much a company is willing to pay to provide content faster onto internet connections.

New Regulation against Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voiced their concern against Net Neutrality as whether all content need to be treated equally or not. They emphasized on ‘paid prioritization’. They are trying to create a two-tier internet system – two virtual lanes; one fast and one slow internet. Now, this is something which is not fair enough! Recently, many internet service providers including Time Warner Cable, Verizon or AT&T strike deals with YouTube, Facebook and other web content firms for priority internet access to consumers.

This means a content providing company can pay to an internet service provider company like Verizon or AT&T to have its traffic on the fast lane for better user experience. Similarly, many such other companies will follow the same rule. In a way, the internet service providers make more money and the costs for content providers shoot up. Now, the question lies how would the content companies recover these costs? They are left with no choices but to charge their customers more. The net result is that you and I will have to pay more for everything on the internet. Nonetheless, the start-up businesses will have a tough time to compete in the market.

In fact, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) planned to block apps and websites to extract more money from businesses and consumers. It supported extreme violation of Net Neutrality. Airtel and are two entities that were a threat to Net Neutrality. Both of them were offering plans that involved using websites and apps free of cost. Apparently, they looked like good plans; however, the real cleverness lies in their strategy to charge more money from you for data packages.

The Ongoing Debate

However, the FCC’s and TRAI’s attempts to execute enforceable and sustainable rules to prioritize internet access to its users have been twice struck down by the court. The debate is still persisting as what’s good for corporations vs. what’s good for citizens of the nations? Net Neutrality is not only a fight between the big tech companies but its existence will highly affect the future of how billions of people access the internet.

The Cause behind Net Neutrality

Network Neutrality or Net Neutrality is the concept of treating all traffic equally, regardless of what data is being sent – it could be VOIP calls, emails, web searches or streaming videos. Internet Service Providers cannot block traffic to certain sites, in order to allow higher traffic to some other sites to get through. Any individual who have access to the internet needs to be able to find what they need online without any kind of hindrances.

Net Neutrality advocates that internet is too important to the economy and democracy. It is a critical tool to conduct commerce, communicate, educate, innovate and engage in the world around.

Supporters of Net Neutrality

Supporters believe that consumers are already paying for connectivity and they certainly deserve to get a quality experience. Violating the core rule governing the internet will be a ruinous way of delivering justice. They say ISPs…

  • Need not be allowed to accept money from companies to make internet service run faster for subscribers
  • Need not strangle user’s bandwidth, if they reach a fixed data cap
  • Need not block competing websites from subscribers
  • Need not exempt companies from data cap for paying more money

The Open Internet Order

The order is in support of transparency when it comes to broadband providers’ responsibilities. They need to be sincere when it comes to management practices, performance reviews and terms & conditions of the services. Also, they cannot discriminate transmitting lawful internet traffic to websites.

Absence of Net Neutrality and Its Impact on the World of Commerce

If companies providing internet service makes it difficult to get access to internet, numerous commerce platforms would have a negative impact on hundreds and thousands of SMEs that rely on them as a means to reach their existing customers & prospects across the world. Net Neutrality reduces the barriers of entry for entrepreneurs, by ensuring that the web is a fair field to work on. It is only because of Net Neutrality that entrepreneurs have been able to thrive on internet. The internet needs to be open to foster job growth, innovation and competition; and without Net Neutrality, ISPs would seize every possible opportunity to earn profit.

Letter to FCC (Source: Bussiness2Community)

Major tech companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon and more asked FCC to encourage Net Neutrality. The letter says, “Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rule should protect users and Internet companies…against blocking, discrimination and paid prioritization….”

What’s Next?

With opponents challenging the new rules in the court and some Republicans in Congress upholding open-internet legislation that would supplant the new regulation against Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission finally approved the policy of Net Neutrality by a 3-2 vote. They ensured that no corporate or governmental body should rule free open access to the internet. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg says he is no enemy of Net Neutrality. On the other hand, over 10 million emails have already been sent to TRAI to prevent Net Neutrality in India from being manipulated. It has also received around 7-8 lakh comments on its discussion paper to preserve the Internet’s free and open character in India.

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