As of now, there are no restrictions to Internet access. One can surf websites, share data, and send messages without restriction.
Recently, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) released a proposal based on the principle that everyone with Internet should be able to access the same content online, no matter what carrier or how much they pay. Proponents for network neutrality (commonly referred to as "Net Neutrality" in today’s debates) argue that a strong legislation would ensure that Internet service providers (ISPs) do not restrict or filter traffic. This would prohibit ISPs from blocking content or regulating speed at which data is transferred. It would also prevent service providers from getting into deals with "big players" and favor them or blocking their competitors. If net neutrality went into effect, then the government would monitor telecoms and cable companies’ broadband connections.
The principle that Internet users can access any web content and applications without restriction from their Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the interest of supporting user choice, preventing discrimination, and allowing freedom of expression.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
In charge of making communications available to everyone (radio, television, and now Internet)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Provide access to the Internet (Comcast, Verizon, etc.)
The FCC stands against the ISPs potential to block content based on the company’s vested interest.
- Guarantees users freedom of choice and full control of their data
- Encourages innovation and creative expression among Internet startups
- Eliminates any type of discrimination in transmission and access of content on the Internet
The ISPs think the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate how the ISPs allocate Internet bandwidth and resources.
- Imposing government regulations gives the FCC more control over the Internet
- Revenues from tiered pricing could lead to better Internet infrastructure and customer service
- People who use more bandwidth should pay more (similar to utilities like electricity, gas, and water).
Another advantage of net neutrality is that it adds competitiveness to the market because users have more options to choose from. The competition between service providers makes each of them come up with their best price, which directly benefits the user, and eliminates a monopoly so that big providers do not dominate the market.
However, it is also worth noting that such legislation will have some issues of its own.
Those opposed to net neutralityargue that it is justified to charge more for heavy Internet usage, as this money helps them to create a better infrastructure, and indirectly contributes to the quality of service. This would allow them to use a tiered system to gain profit. People who use the Internet to download larger programs will be required to pay more than someone who uses it just to check their email. The more bandwidth you use, the more you will pay. ISPs claim thatbeing blocked from monitoringthe use of bandwidth cuts into their profits and will ultimately stifle technological development and the broadband upgrades to the services they provide.
Any regulations concerning network neutrality should be based on an adequate balance between the different interests concerned. Any major involvement of the ISPs in the way their customers lawfully use the Internet leads to a wave of social protests and initiates political discussions. In turn, any proposal for mandatory network neutrality raises fears about excessive government intervention in the market of Internet services and unintended consequences.