What is Net Neutrality?
When a shop logs on to the Internet, a lot of things are taken for granted. We assume that we will be able to access whatever website we want, whether it be an OEM service information website, video technician training or a website to order parts. Also, we assume that our websites are being treated the same no matter what network or device we are using to view them.
What makes all these assumptions possible is “network neutrality,” the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. Net neutrality means that Internet service providers (ISP) may not discriminate between different kinds of content or who is providing it. It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and Internet technologies.
But all that could change.
On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order in the case of Verizon v. FCC. This ruling killed net neutrality, which means ISPs are now able to block any website or app they want and decide what you can do and where you can go online.
The biggest cable and telephone companies would like to charge you money for smooth access to certain websites and for these websites to have access to you. Those who don’t make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination. It is double dipping.
For you, a subscriber and small business owner, it means that an ISP can control the pipe that delivers information to you through two methods. First, if a website does not pay an ISP to use their Internet pipeline, it has a right to reduce the bandwidth. Second, if you want full access to the Internet at usable speeds, it could cost you a lot more.
You could find yourself needing a training video or a download of a wiring diagram, and it might be unwatchable or take forever to download because you did not pay for a top-tier Internet package, or the company hosting the information did not pay the ISP for access to you.
What can you do?
Not much. You can contact your government representatives and sign online petitions, but you are at the mercy of your ISP.