Net Neutrality and how it impacts youZackary ZentzFort Hayes State [email protected]/12/2017UndergraduateAbstractThis paper is intended todescribe the effects of net neutrality on the public by explaining what netneutrality entails and its significance. Under consideration also is thecurrent status of affairs on the issue of net neutrality and consideration ofhow things would be without net neutrality rules. Finally, it indicates howTrump’s presidency may change the net neutrality rules and concludes whethernet neutrality rules are a good policy with regards to public interest. Net Neutrality and How It Impacts YouIntroductionTheconcept of net neutrality refers to the equal treatment of all data over theinternet by the Internet Service Providers, ISPs. This means that Internetservice providers may not discriminate between various kinds of content andapplications online.
It guarantees a level playing field for all websites andInternet technologies. Net neutrality is concerned with access to contentrather than consumer speed and pricing (Huggins, Regan, & Lyons, 2017). Adoptionof net neutrality rules in the United States began in 2009 by FCC chairman,Genachowski.
His move to adopt the rules faced feverish fight back from majorcable and telecom companies. According to Gonzalez & Torres, (2011), thenet neutrality rules as reported will jeopardize the goals supported by theObama administration that every American has access to high speed Internetservices no matter where they live or their financial circumstances, as wassaid by AT & T’s senior vice president, Jim Cicconi. Backgroundof the problemNetneutrality is a concept based on the principle of a “public medium”,including communication systems. A typical supplier of goods and services is anorganization or business that provides its assortment to all comers without anyexceptions, this also applies to communication or data services. Net neutralityassumes that any user should have equal access to the lines of communication,if he can pay for the service, and receive / transfer the amount of datawithout any restrictions.Simplyput, all data transmitted via the Internet should be provided by Internetservice providers and government regulators to all users on the same terms,regardless of the identity of the data creator or user, content, platform,application, type or method of communication. This means that all users musthave equal access to the network and, at the very least, pay the same price foran unhindered connection, regardless of the purpose with which the user isusing the network.
Whilethe idea existed before, it become well known in 2008. This happened whenComcast was accused of using packet generation to intentionally limit thetraffic flow for BitTorrent protocol users. BitTorrent, is a very popular filesharing service that allows you to transfer all forms of digital content,including music and video, which requires high bandwidth. The results of theinvestigation of the complaint were mixed, Comcast was prosecuted, but foundnot guilty, the problem gave rise to a discussion that continues today.Therules of network neutrality stipulate that Internet service providers, such asComcast and Verizon, act as “public providers”, which allows FCC todictate rules to ISPs.
In particular, the agency prohibited blocking, slowingdown or prioritizing certain traffic in its network in order to obtainfinancial benefits. For example, AT & T cannot slow down the YouTube TV serviceand thus promote its own DirecTV Now project.Currentstatus of net neutrality rulesTherehave been a lot of issues surrounding the problem of net neutrality.Documenting from the FCC’s perspective, and from the proponents and opponents’views on the matter and the level of success that FCC has seen to date inenforcing net neutrality rules, we can clearly see the current status ofaffairs as far as net neutrality is concerned.Netneutrality is perhaps the most hotly debated media policy issue in recent years(Stiegler, 2012). The new rules on netneutrality were issued by the Federal Communication Commission, FCC, onFebruary 26, 2015, after months of debate on this issue. The new rules prohibitbroadband providers from blocking, throttling (degrading service users), orallowing paid prioritization from other vendors. Eventhough lawsuits have already been filed against the FCC over the new rules, butfor now, the new rules are the law of the land in the United States.
ISPs havelong had different tiers of service available to consumers. Those with moremoney can afford a faster connection. However,the faster speeds do not give preferential treatment to content providers. Asof 2015, the FCC did not regulate consumer Internet pricing tiers and had noplans to do so (Huggins, Regan, & Lyons, 2017). However there havecurrently been a lot of court proceedings to stop FCC from regulating the net.This causes much debate about if net neutrality rules should be abolished. Theloss of net neutrality would end this unparalleled opportunity of freedom ofexpression.Currently,all websites are delivered on an equal basis; if you go to Amazon.
com, yourwebpage is delivered just as fast as if you go to the white House’s website(whitehouse.gov) or the New York Times (nytimes.com) or a social networkingsite like Facebook or MySpace.
This shows that indeed net neutrality has takeneffect (Belmas, & Overbeck, (2014).Netneutrality players These are the various bodies and companiesthat have contributed towards the shaping of net neutrality through debating onthis matter. In this case, there are some groups that are in support of netneutrality rules whereas the other groups are opposed to the issue of netneutrality.
Accordingto Huggins, Regan, & Lyons, the proponents of net neutrality include bothInternet startup companies and large Internet content providers, which includeNetflix, Apple. eBay, Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, Google and Amazon.com. Othergroups in favor of net neutrality include advocacy and human rightsorganizations such as Free Press, Common Cause, Public Knowledge and Fight forthe Future. President Barack Obama and many Democratic members of Congress arealso in favor if the issue.Thoseagainst net neutrality regulation include large ISPs such as Comcast, TimeWarner Cable, Cox, AT & T and Verizon.
Also opposed to net neutrality areindustry advocacy groups such as the US Telecom Association and the NationalCable & Telecommunications Association, and think tanks, such as the FreeState Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. ManyRepublicans are also against the idea of adding extra rules and regulations forbusinesses, as are some large tech companies, including Intel, IBM, Qualcommand Cisco. Netneutrality debateNetneutrality has been one of the hotly debated media issues. Due to differentopinions on the matter from diverse groups of peoples and companies, there havebeen numerous debates in attempt to show the validity or invalidity of this issue.Stiegler,(2012), notes that debates over net neutrality raise the evasive matter of whocontrols the internet and to what ends.
As net neutrality garnered greaterpublic awareness, two clearly defined, vocal and opposing camps emerged. Anumber of public interest groups rallied to advocate for codifying networkneutrality in the interest of preserving unrestricted web access for Americanconsumers. On the other hand, telecommunications firms such as AT andComcast worked to prevent legislation by FCC policy protecting net neutrality, expressingconcern of government intrusion into private enterprise.Reasonsfor net neutrality rulesForany policy formed, before it is put into enforcement, it is important toconsider the factors behind the formation of the specific policy. Similarly, itis important to consider the factors that the policy makers considered beforecoming up with net neutrality rules. This entails considering the beneficiariesof the policy, the effect of the policy and what prompted the policy makers tocome up with the policy. Similarly, there are several reasons that wereconsidered before setting the net neutrality rules.
Avoidingnet neutrality regulation for wireless internet for AT & T means protectingone of its most important business segments from regulation that might fetterprofit accumulation (Edina, Stiglitz & De (2012). Without net neutralityrules AT & T could for example raise its income through charging providersof mobile Internet content for fast delivery of their content. Societyis the main beneficiary of net neutrality. According to AT & T, one oftheir arguments against net neutrality is that these rules would allow largecorporations to use their network for free.
But this is not true since thisargument neglects the fact that Internet access is not free today. Consumersare paying for accessing the content and services that they want to use.Consumers’ interest is never on the value of connection but majorly on thecontent delivered by the connection.Asnet neutrality protects companies such as Amazon, eBay or Google from payingadditional fees, it is not surprising that they advocate for net neutralityrules. But this does not mean that these companies are the main beneficiaries ofnet neutrality.
These companies are highly profitable and they could afford topay fees for prioritizing their services. Individual bloggers, NGOs, civilsociety organizations, alternative media, protest groups, social movements etcon the contrary often have only limited financial resources and could thereforenot afford prioritization. Thismeans that in the absence of net neutrality rules, financially powerful actorsin the society could distribute their services much faster than others.
In sucha situation, power would further shift away from the public to financiallypowerful corporations. Thus, the main beneficiaries of net neutrality rules isthe society, including individuals, NGOs, protest groups, alternative media andothers, that it protects from a further expansion of power and control (Edina,Stiglitz & De (2012).Somecontent providers that would otherwise pay ISPs for enhanced services mightbenefit from net neutrality rules. But the absence of net neutrality regulationwill not necessarily reduce investment by content providers, and it might evenincrease their investment.Theyfurther argue that this problem is made worse when large companies purchase ormerge with competitors. They believe that without competition, these companieswield too much power and control, and the results are excessive cost, poorservice and lack of choice. They therefore contend that because of thesefactors, the FCC must regulate ISPs to maintain an open Internet.
Aninternet based upon neutrality prevents the telecommunications industry fromsegregating the flow of information, instead facilitating continued freedom ofaccess, expression and innovation onlineArgumentsagainst net neutrality rulesAsis the case with any policy, there will be arguments for and against thepolicy. Not everybody will support the policy and other people may even feel thatthe policy or rules target them. However, if the rules are for the interest ofthe majority, they will be enacted. Arguments against net neutrality rules helpshape the issue and make probable changes to ensure that the policy is moreeffective.Edina,Stiglitz & De (2012), further argues that, net neutrality rules works as aseesaw principle in action. Net neutrality has a different degree of importancefor the ordinary user and for business.
Undoubtedly, the ways of using theInternet are the same, but the scale of its use far exceeds the scope ofreceiving e-mail and paying bank accounts. Enterprises based on the Internetreceive their income from stable Internet traffic. Low download speed andInternet restrictions deprive them of the expected profit, because web userswill better go to a different page than they will wait for the download. Thewebsite of Kissmetrics web-passports says that almost 50% of all Internet usersexpect that the necessary pages will load in 2 seconds or less, and only 1second of delay during download increases the failure rate by 7% or more, soany Internet business is interested in,Onthe other side of the net neutrality argument are individuals who opposegovernment regulations, as well as a group of cable and telecom companies.These companies have spent years and billions of dollars building high-speedinternet networks and contend there is nothing wrong with creating Internet fastlanes. They say the internet will remain open under such a structure andconsumers will not be blocked from accessing any content.
Theseopponents further contend that government regulations deter investment inimproving the internet. Moreover, they say that regulations could also harminnovation by preventing the development of services that take advantage ofInternet fast lanes. Considering the case of AT & T, we can get a pictureof the opponents’ arguments against net neutrality. Are they considering theissue in relation to the public or just themselves?AT& T’s arguments against net neutrality regulationOnseveral occasions, AT& T has publicly highlighted that it rejects the ideaof net neutrality. The company was at the fore front of the lobbying processagainst net neutrality. For instance, the company was a member of the Hands offthe Internet campaign, a coalition of net neutrality opponents.
The company,through its senior management, argued that FCC’s policy on net neutrality wasinfluenced by the ideas of AT & T’s opponents, which were in many casestruly bad and radical ideas. Policymakers ‘contribution towards net neutrality.Accordingto Belmas, & Overbeck, (2014), FCC supports net neutrality and acted asthough it had the authority to mandate it. Members of Congress and the FCC havetried to strike a balance between protecting consumer and business access whilebeing fair to ISPs. During the past years net neutrality was subjected to acontested policy formation process in the United States. After having definedthe principles of net neutrality in 2005, the FCC in 2009 attempted to enactstronger net neutrality regulation, including the possibility of stricterenforcement (FCC 2009).
However, due to strong corporate pressure the proposedrules were substantially weakened (FCC 2010) until they came into effect onNovember 20, 2011.Thereality about net neutralityTryingto unveil the real reasons behind the policy or rules is important for everyoneto properly understand the rules before making decisions to oppose or supportthem. Some people may be merely attracted to support the policy due to what itpurports to do. But it is important to dig deep into the roots of the policyand consider beyond the advantages. Oneof the reasons why an Internet service provider wants to limit the flow oftraffic is purely technical and consists in the desire to prevent systemfailures (Xiao, 2008). The flow of data through the ISP is not the same, itvaries during the day and on different days of the week or even months. In themornings, when people wake up, traffic grows, then, with the beginning of theworking day, increases many times, in the evening, when people return home,decreases. In some periods of the day traffic is low, and the connection speedis high, while in others, on the contrary, there is a higher level of trafficand a lower connection speed.
If traffic becomes too heavy, it can slow downthe service of the entire stream of the Internet provider (and create a longbuffer time for streaming media), or it can lead to network malfunction andinterruption of service for millions of users.However,for much of the internet’s history, content providers, end users and theservice providers have operated under an assumption that all traffic should betreated equally in terms of speed and access, and this is the principle of netneutrality. But due to recent revelations of ISPs slowing or speeding uploadsor downloads to and from certain sites and services, depending on partnershipsor other economic relationships, of course, has understandably caused a goodamount of public concern, thus the need for net neutrality (Belmas, &Overbeck, (2014).FCChas sought to fine ISPs for these practices, citing the value of netneutrality. President Obama called for broadband services to be regulated inmuch the same way that we regulate utilities like gas and electricitycompanies.
Opponents argue that this sort of regulation would set a dangerousprecedent of government oversight of internet and its content.Trump’spresidency and net neutralityItis clear that the issue of net neutrality was introduced under the leadershipof the former president of the United States, Barack Obama. Each person has hisown unique and different way of carrying out his or her duties as far asregulation is concerned, for those in power. And it is unexpected thatPresident Trump will support all the rules and regulations that were put inplace by his predecessor. Aninteresting factor to note is that an important battle in the world ofbroadband access is now being fought in the context of pole attachments andother traditional elements of the local telephone exchange network. Thisconflict illustrates the significance of traditional communications networkfacilities. Access to those facilities continues to be vital even in the newbroadband environment.
Will president Trump approve of the net neutralityissue?Accordingto Delta, (2016), some observers believe that the Trump administration islikely either to attempt to eliminate the net neutrality requirement adopted bythe FCC or to avoid enforcing its terms. This is because the Trump’sadministration does not appear to embrace the fundamental principles associatedwith net neutrality and is thus likely to apply those principles in thebroadband marketplace.Moreover,the distinctions between access and content providers are blurring as companiesspan multiple service and product sectors through innovative use of newinformation and communications technologies. Another important factorcomplicating the effort to expand broadband access is the debate over theappropriate role of local governments in providing such access. A growingnumber of local communities are developing their own public broadband networks,thus putting the continuity of net neutrality rules under Trump’s presidency atstake.
Asindicated by Foster, (2017), Trump administration came into office with whatcan only be called a neo- fascist political project. Trump’s domestic agendareflected the class alliances and ‘sub intellectual’ ideology that brought himto power. Considering some of the changes that his administration has proposedto work on, there is no doubt that the net neutrality rules will be scrappedoff under this administration.
ConclusionDespitethe several arguments and debated against net neutrality majorly spear headedby such companies as T & T and Comcast, the issue of net neutrality asdocumented by FCC is aimed at creating a fair and equal ground as far asinternet networks are concerned. Therefore, the net neutrality rules are a goodpolicy as far as public interest is concerned. This is because the regulationserves to the public interest and to protect internet discrimination of thepublic users by the content providers. This regulation also serves to balanceinternet controls from the powerful providers and the less weak end users.Moreover, the society is the main beneficiary of net neutrality and definitely,the society will be the one to suffer most in the hands of content providers inthe case that net neutrality rules are scrapped off, as is proposed under thepresidency of Trump. ReferencesBelmas,G. I.
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