It’s just par for the course in a nation that is divided politically, economically, and in virtually every other way. Some argue that Net Neutrality will ruin the Internet. Others argue that it’s the only measure that will save the Internet. Most consumers are caught in the middle — simply confused over the hoopla and worried about what the new law will mean.
What is Net Neutrality?
The FCC passed Net Neutrality on February 26, 2015. It released the 313-page document outlining these new rules and regulations on March 12. The legislation takes effect two months after publication, but all indications are that the measure is headed for court eventually.
Passing Net Neutrality means that Internet service (including mobile broadband) becomes a utility, and is regulated as are power, water, natural gas, and other utilities. It puts Internet service providers (ISPs) under the purview of the Title II Telecommunications Act. Here is what you, the IT service desk, needs to know about Net Neutrality.
The Arguments for Net Neutrality
Those who support Net Neutrality believe that equal access to the Internet is a right. They argue that the measure is good for competition, because it doesn’t allow big companies to pay more and receive preferential broadband services (faster or more). Therefore, the little guys can be competitive with the giants like Netflix and Amazon (video streaming services are a hot topic among both those for and against Net Neutrality because streaming requires so much broadband).
Proponents also worry that without this law, prices for Internet services will go up, which will trickle down and drive up prices for consumers. They also point to ISPs that “double dip.” ISPs get to charge the customer for service, and then also charge the content provider for making the service available. Net Neutrality is supposed to prevent this.
The Arguments Against Net Neutrality
Groups and individuals fighting to stop Net Neutrality argue that it just gives the already-too-powerful government even more power. Before this passed, the government had relatively little authority over Internet services, and some argue that things were moving along just fine without the intervention.
Anti-Net-Neutrality arguments also include the fact that it will still be possible for ISPs to engage in tier pricing, and that it isn’t fair to charge everyone the same. They believe that Net Neutrality will take away our “Internet all-you-can-eat buffet” and replace it with a pricing model that charges based on usage. Net Neutrality is not a free-market solution, but rather a government-enforced solution.
Is Net Neutrality a Done Deal?
Currently, nothing stands in the way of Net Neutrality becoming law as planned two months from March 12. However, a number of small businesses and other groups against the measure are looking into possible lawsuits that could stop the FCC’s ruling from going into effect. Stay tuned for further developments, which will likely come quickly.
What Does IT Service Management Need to Know About Net Neutrality?
What does all this mean for the IT professional? First, look for changes in the pricing structure of your Internet service. It is still unclear how all this will shake out, but there is little argument that Net Neutrality will affect how much you pay for Internet services.
Additionally, ISPs should no longer engage in “throttling.” This means that whether you are offering rich video presentations or online file sharing, your service should not be affected. This measure of the law most strongly impacts torrent and torrent-like streaming services.
If things go as planned, Net Neutrality might be a benefit to small and mid-sized businesses trying to compete with larger organizations. If you’d like to see how similar laws are playing out in other countries, you can follow the situations in two other countries that have introduced Net Neutrality measures — Chile and the Netherlands.