Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Consider, for example, net neutrality – the guiding principle of the internet since its beginning.

The intent of net neutrality is to keep the internet free and open for everyone. This means that in the U.S., we can share and access information without interference.

In 2015, in response to public pressure, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally adopted net neutrality rules. Less than two years later, following the election of the new administration, the FCC voted to dismantle the net neutrality rules.

Under the net neutrality protections passed in 2015, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not permitted to block or otherwise hinder access to content. Specifically, they cannot speed up, slow down or block any content, applications or websites that you may want to use or visit.

Without the protections that net neutrality affords, it’s possible that companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will decide to block or slow down online content.

One way they may do this is by establishing “fast lanes.” Fast lanes are essentially a system of paid prioritization in which an ISP charges certain companies an additional fee to carry their content.

For example, Verizon or Comcast could charge sites and services like YouTube or Netflix more in exchange for faster loading and streaming times. Online platforms that don’t (or can’t) pay would be relegated to “slow lanes.”

Consumers also could be charged additional fees to access certain types of streaming content such as sports or music on the fast lane. Of course, consumers will ultimately be on the hook for the cost of additional fees charged to platforms such as Netflix to use the fast lane.

Why we support net neutrality

Future Link is fully in favor of net neutrality. We believe that consumers who pay to be connected to the internet should not have the performance or cost of their service determined by the content they consume.

Net neutrality is crucial for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs. They rely on the open internet to reach their customers. Without the protections of net neutrality, ISPs could charge businesses more for the fast lane. If they can’t afford it, they’ll be stuck in the slow lane.

To quote an analogy from a recent article at theguardian.com:

  • Imagine they (private road owners) were allowed to charge companies different amounts to use them (roads), so that companies with enough cash could pay for exclusive use of fast lanes, leaving their smaller competitors consigned to lag behind on slow, badly maintained roads. Sounds outrageously anti-competitive, doesn’t it?

Want to learn more about net neutrality and what you can do to help restore its protections?
Click here.

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