It’s April 23, the day Net Neutrality dies. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, as promised, has spearheaded a campaign to eliminate it.
From the Federal Register:
SUMMARY: In this document the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) returns to the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for nearly two decades. The Commission restores the classification of broadband internet access service as a lightly-regulated information service and reinstates the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband internet access service.
The Restoring Internet Freedom Order requires internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose information about their network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service.
This means that some of the regulatory authority over the internet is ceded by the government. Some regulatory ability remains, in the form of mandatory disclosures.
The contentiousness of Net Neutrality is fueled by the interests behind it, because the average person is unaffected. Large tech companies and content provider companies favor Net Neutrality. ISPs do not.
There are a variety of reasons, but the one most commonly evoked is the notion of multi-tiered content delivery. Without Net Neutrality, for example, Netflix could pay Comcast to restrict a certain amount of available bandwidth for Netflix use exclusively, allowing Netflix an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
The extension of this line of thought is that, if Netflix were willing to pay that extra money, subscribers would need to pay more for the service, the ISPs would have greater income, more infrastructure would be built, and there would be more bandwidth available.
With Net Neutrality, however, Netflix would be unable to pay more for more bandwidth. All bandwidth would be available at equal speeds for all locations (barring outages and natural equipment bottlenecks.)
Netflix would not be expected to upgrade the delivery aspect of their service because they would be legally prevented from doing so. If, in some suburban and rural areas, the equipment was incapable of delivering the high speeds required for streaming content, the ISPs would be expected to cover the costs.
In practice, because optimizing remote equipment results in a revenue loss instead of a profit, companies don’t do it (until mandated by the government.) People get poorer service available. But Netflix (or, not to pick on them specifically, most other high-usage content delivery giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter) is able to maximize their footprint and profit with no extra cost.
The second most commonly voiced concern is that the ISPs could censor undesired content. That can happen whether Net Neutrality exists or not, but the criminal penalties would be higher for it with Net Neutrality. With Net Neutrality, however, the government is also given the authority to directly censor undesired content.
The internet existed in its current form for nearly twenty years without Net Neutrality. It did not fracture or fail when Net Neutrality was enacted. It has now been two years for Net Neutrality. It will not fracture or fail when Net Neutrality is removed.
And today, Net Neutrality is gone.