The repeal of net neutrality will destroy the internet. Last year, net neutrality was repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pait. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Pait’s former employer, Verizon, are now able to limit and restrict access to websites across the internet. Consumers will take the brunt of this due to the partitioning of websites into cable-like packages. Businesses will face reduced speeds and load times to their websites based off their affiliations with certain ISPs. Those who oppose net neutrality claim that it is good for innovation, but they ignore the real effect it actually has on businesses. The debate on net neutrality is one of fairness versus corporate greed.
Consumer wallets will face the largest impact due to the corporate greed. Internet bills will skyrocket, and websites will be separated into bundles. This process has already begun in Portugal. ISPs have begun placing websites into packages. One of such packages is the social package, which for $4.99 a month the consumer can access social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram. Consumers will have to pay even more for subscription services like Netflix and Hulu just so they can load the webpage. This also means consumers will have limited access to news and media, which could have a negative impact on their ability to understand different opinions. The dystopian internet is real, and it will soon reach the U.S.
U.S. businesses will also face the woes of net neutrality. Larger businesses will face limits and restrictions on access to their website due to company competition. For example, users with AT&T internet who are trying to access The Huffington Post may face lower load times or even a flat out restriction due to the Post’s relationship with Verizon. If you think that ISPs wouldn’t do something like that, all you have to do is look at T-Mobile. In 2010, T-Mobile released a very poorly named payment app called ISIS. This app was in direct competition with Google Pay, so T-Mobile simply removed Google Pay from their devices to force consumers to use ISIS. Small businesses will also be harmed in the form extra expenses to keep their website available to the general public. Simple mom-and-pop stores would have to pay large amounts to all the different ISPs just so consumers could reach their webpage.
Those who support Chairman Pait’s destruction of net neutrality ignore the real effects that it has on the economy. They claim that net neutrality inhibits innovation, but in reality it has the complete opposite effect. Net neutrality encourages free thinking and entrepreneurship. The free internet would fall apart without it. Pait’s supporters will also cite the lack of effect on the internet so far. They would be correct thus far. ISPs have chosen to slowly integrate the new restricted internet so that consumers are not clamoring for their free internet. This slow adjustment process, however, does not mean that ISPs are not taking advantage of the new rules. In June, Verizon’s throttled a California fire department’s internet speeds during “the largest wildfire ever in California,” which covered more than 400,000 acres.
Fairness is clearly more important than greed when it comes to the internet, especially when it places lives and homes in danger. Consumers will soon be forced to pick and choose what websites they want to pay for. Businesses will soon be forced to pay exorbitant fees to be easily located by consumers. ISPs will push their competition to limits by blocking rival websites. All these horrible things, however, may be prevented from occuring. California lawmakers have drafted their own net neutrality law. This could push other states to pass similar laws that protect the people like the FCC is supposed to do. The law, however, is in a dire situation. Congress is being lobbied heavily by AT&T and Verizon to create a online privacy law that would prevent states from creating strong net neutrality laws like California’s. So, what do we do? Well, you could call your congressman, or you could wait for the free internet to collapse.