The FCC could end net neutrality in the US.
ISPs could start charging separately for different content, websites, and platforms.
IT Minister of India says that access to internet should not be discriminated.
Net neutrality has been dug out of its grave and it’s back in the US causing protests and backlash from the public. What caused this was a 210-page document titled “Restoring Internet Freedom” released by The Federal Communications Communications (FCC). Contrary to what the PDF’s title says, this move is being seen as an end to net neutrality in the US. Why so, because this draft order if passed will revoke the 2015 Open Internet Order which strictly allows ISPs to provide internet services equally for everyone. Also Read - Internet turns 25 in India: Here's how the next 25 years may look likeAlso Read - TikTok beats WhatsApp and Facebook in usage in rural India: Report
Firstly, in simple terms, net neutrality means the freedom to provide internet services equally and not judge separately for users, content, websites, platforms, among others. This has led to protests and online petitions from across the country demanding that net neutrality remains. With the end of net neutrality, ISPs will have the authority to charge separately for different websites and platforms, and also change the internet speeds accordingly. Giving the simplest example, you could end up paying just to use Google or Facebook. Also Read - Work from home: Essential gadgets and gear to maintain productivity and health
In the US, Comcast, At&T, Time Warner, and Verizon which are the biggest ISPs would have the upper hand here in terms of monetary. These companies would act as the gatekeepers for internet services leaving behind less choice for consumers. Without consumers having the freedom to pay for what content they want, they end up being limited due to the charging constraints. In essence, this would turn out to be like subscribing to cable TV where you end up paying for channels you do now wish to subscribe, and not actually getting the content you want to watch.
At present, whether you are streaming a live event, or watching a movie, or playing a video game, you get to do all that at the speed you’re paying for. This could be altered as ISPs would have the freedom to move different types of content to either faster or slower lanes of connectivity.
Speaking about content providers like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix this decision would affect them too. The same principle would apply here for ISPs to slow down internet speeds for these streaming services thereby causing users to replace their subscriptions. For example, users could move to Comcast’s streaming service Xfinity TV. These companies, in order to save their subscribers would end up paying ISPs for faster services. This way the ISPs gain not only from users but from companies like these as well.
Establishing rules for the flow of internet services could be seen from a different view as well. Washington Examiner opines how without net neutrality there would be a clearer way to how internet services can be provided. This way the focus would be laid on companies providing faster internet access to services that need it more over some useless browsing on the web.
However, this would still lead to a monopolized market with only the biggies controlling access to widespread internet. Internet isn’t free and we do pay for it to do practically find out every damn thing on this earth. On top of paying for internet connectivity, we also pay for subscriptions to content streaming services and also media outlets.
While the ‘land of the free’ battles it out for net neutrality, the news has reached India as well and questions rise on whether it would affect the country or not. For a country like India where internet connectivity is still a problem of its own, net neutrality will possibly see a similar response like the US.
In tune with the ongoing debate on net neutrality, IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Digital inclusion, digital access and digital security should become important signposts of cyberspace. Access to the internet should not be negotiable, and should be available without discrimination.” He was speaking at the recent Cyberspace conference. Quite interestingly, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is scheduled to announce its recommendations on net neutrality today.