Ending Net Neutrality Would be Bad for American Consumers

“With the neutral net, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Comcast, must provide the same standard of service to every website.”

Net neutrality is good for the average American consumer. Why? Because it maximizes your choices and allows you to consume the Internet on your own terms. If net neutrality is rolled back, this freedom will be at risk. Further, the end of net neutrality could make things more difficult for smaller websites, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and similar groups to get noticed. This could stifle innovation, and result in consumers having fewer choices and opportunities.

To understand why this is, you must first understand what net neutrality is. With the neutral net, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Comcast, must provide the same standard of service to every website. They cannot throttle websites or slow down data transfer speeds. If net neutrality is rolled back, ISPs will be able to create fast and slow lanes on the internet, and could potentially charge websites more money if they want to be in the “fast” lane.

Do you use a streaming service, such as Amazon or Netflix? These services have become very popular in recent years, and many Americans have “cut the cord” by abandoning their expensive cable bills. If net neutrality is rolled back, Comcast and other ISPs could force these streaming services to pay hefty fees or else slowdown their streaming. Of course, if a company like Netflix has to pay higher costs, they will pass these costs to consumers. Your $7.99 Netflix account might jump to $9.99 and so on.

ISPs could go even further and force every website, even smaller ones, to pay extra if they want to be in the “fast lane”. This could curtail innovation. Imagine that you want to start your very own political blog so you can expound on the issues that are important to you. You build a website, and write some articles, working hard for precious and hard to obtain views.

But people who visit your website find it to be too slow and leave. Why? Because an ISP has placed your blog in the slow lane and is demanding payment for you to be put into the fast lane. If you don’t fork over the money, your site will stay in the slow lane. Hopefully ISPs won’t take such extreme actions, but without net neutrality, they potentially could.

ISPs have a right to recoup costs for providing data. However, they already have a useful tool for doing so: data caps. With a simple data cap, customers pay for a certain amount of data. Then, consumers consume that data on their own terms. Data can be thought of like money. You “spend” your data on what you want.

If net neutrality is rolled back, ISPs could limit your options and choices. They might even try to force consumers to buy Internet plans that are similar to current cable plans. If you want Netflix and Amazon to be in the fast lane, you might have to pay extra for it. Even if you have the data to spend per your plan, you still might not be able to watch Netflix or another streaming service simply because your ISP is throttling that website. Net neutrality is beneficial for all of us, and losing it could have consequences that affect us all.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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