The FCC voted today to discuss the possibility of allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to create “fast lanes” for sites that pay them extra money. Looking from it at that standpoint, it seems like a great idea. But, the companies aren’t upgrading their bandwidth. How are they going to make some sites faster than others? By taking bandwidth from sites that don’t pay their extra fees and putting them into a “slow lane”.
Before we discuss why this is a bad thing, let’s first define net neutrality. The internet as we know it right now is net neutral, meaning that all content and data is treated equally. Whether it be a Wikipedia page about Abraham Lincoln, pictures of cats in hats, or a movie on Netflix, it’s all treated equally. When you access the site, your ISP uses all of your bandwidth to get you to the site, no matter what. This lets anyone start up businesses or websites on the internet, including us. The internet is a complete and leveled playing field, creating true competition. By allowing companies to decide how much bandwidth you use to access a certain site, you’re essentially eliminating competition.
The companies that give you internet also sell cable and phone services, right? Think about it for a second. The internet makes those services obsolete. With services like Skype or Netflix, there’s no real reason to have a landline or a cable box. ISPs know this, we all know this. So they could. essentially, force Netflix to pay extra fees for “faster” service , not give them the faster service, slow them to a crawl, and put them out of business, thus creating a need for cable TV. Sound a little fishy? “They wouldn’t do that! That’s monopolizing!” you say? Well, they already are. And it would only get worse if this passes.
Now, this is only half the story. How does that affect us? Well, if it wasn’t enough money already, they want us to pay extra for the services that we already pay for (i.e Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, etc). They want to create packages that allow “faster speeds” on these sites. By “faster speeds” they mean, “We’re gonna slow down the site to a crawl unless you pay us an extra $29.99 a month for the YouTube gold package. Or you could spend an extra $49.99 a month for the streaming package including Netflix, Hulu, and certain other services.”
ISPs make their money by selling premium packages to people who don’t need it or understand what it is. They’ll talk the old lady down the road into a 75Mb/s package for $79.99 a month because she “needs it”. They know she’ll only use a percentage of that bandwidth a day, so they make a huge profit. But what about the people that pay for the 75Mb/s package that, ya know, use 75Mb/s? They want them to pay extra for that. That’s right. You spend $79.99 a month for 75Mb/s and you’re not even entitled to that 75Mb/s unless you pay extra. It’s like this:
I sell you a bag of Skittles for $1. You’re entitled to that entire bag of Skittles, correct? You paid for it, so it’s yours. So you decide, “Oh, I want to eat this entire bag of Skittles at once.” You start gobbling it all up and I snatch the bag of Skittles back and say, “No no no good sir. You need to pay an extra $1 for the premium, ‘Gobble It All Up’ package if you want to eat the whole bag.” Ridiculous? Yeah, we all think so.
Oh ISP, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways you try to steal from us:
- They get money from us, the consumer, for monthly internet access.
- They force other websites to pay extra fees for “fast lanes”.
- They force us to pay extra fees to view sites with “fast lanes”.
They’re triple dipping and it’s disgusting. This needs to be stopped. I hoped I explained it well. There a few more videos here and here that explain it a lot better than I do. Please, we need your help to fight against this tyranny. As Julius says in “Pulp Fiction“, “The path of the righteous man (or woman) is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.” The ISPs are the selfish and the evil men, we must be righteous ones. We must fight against them. Click here if you want to help!