The Federal Communications Commission is drawing up a plan to reverse Obama-era rules that require all internet traffic to be treated equally. Known on the street as “net-neutrality,” the current rules prevent Internet providers from playing favorites with the content of their choice. Allowing such favoritism on the internet would put some at a huge disadvantage.
While I’m not one to sound off on political topics, I do feel this is an important topic regardless of one’s stance. Given this is a complex issue with multiple levels of arguments and counter-arguments, there is no way one brief blog post could ever cover or give due justice to either side of the topic. With that said, here are some of the critical points that shed light on each side’s perspective:
Concern over FCC Control
One of the most obvious concerns is government dictating how businesses price, distribute and run their services, or build their product. By the FCC telling internet providers they must treat all content equally, the Feds are essentially telling a business how to run their, well, business. No one likes to be told what to do, particularly not the CEO or the board of the directors of a company. “Get out of my way and let us bring services to the market and provide solutions to our customer base,” is what you’ll hear from most owners. In many cases, it’s easy to see validity in that position.
Equality of internet speed
On the other hand, imagine life without some sort of equality of the Internet. For instance, what if bandwidth was priced differently to different people? If you wanted to stream a video of your child’s fourth birthday to grandma across the country, you may have to pay a little more than someone else streaming some other form of video. Cool? Probably not.
Importance of the internet in everyday lives
We are so intertwined with the internet, it’s almost impossible to get by without it. We use it to learn, communicate, share, work, explore and stay connected. Grandparents video chat with their grandkids from a distance. People are shifting their entertainment consumption habits to it. Households are becoming more and more connected to it through the IoT (Internet of Things). For many businesses, including Morgan & Co., the internet is not only a critical tool for providing services, it IS part of the services provided.
Life today is so much more advanced, and oftentimes easier, because someone sitting in a garage created a widget to help us out. Now imagine if that person never got that idea or product to market because they had to pay a higher price for internet service than a person who runs in a different circle. That’s what net neutrality is designed to prevent. NOTE: I said designed to prevent. Remember, things don’t always do what they are intended to do.
Over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for more information and direction on the Fed’s actions regarding this very important topic. It could have major implications on how the internet is managed, which could mean several things to your life. And if you think this is interesting, another fun topic is AT&T Inc.’s desire to take over Time Warner Inc., including the Department of Justice’s recently filed lawsuit to halt those talks. Such a merge could also have implications on consumers.