Net neutrality is a term that has been floating around for quite some time now, though many people are simply hearing the term without truly understanding it. So what does net neutrality mean exactly, and why is it important to understand? Net neutrality is a concept that prevents Internet service providers (like Verizon, Rogers, et cetera) from regulating the type of content that you can access online and forces them to treat all content sources equally. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the enforcing body.
This concept is intended to create an even playing field across all content providers on the Internet, making affiliations with service providers (ex: Comcast and NBC) irrelevant to the speed and amount of web traffic.
Many countries, including Canada and the United States, experience net neutrality. In the United States, the net neutrality rules were passed by the FCC on February 26th, 2015. This prevents them from operating in the manner detailed in the section below.
Why Were Service Providers Against It?
Net neutrality seems like a great thing on the surface, since essentially consumers will be able to see what they want to on the web without having to suffer through prioritized content. So why are many Internet service providers against net neutrality?
First of all, it limits their potential revenue. You know how you can get more data (ex: 300GB instead of 80GB) per month of Internet? These different levels that service providers offer are called tiers of service. Now, without net neutrality service providers could charge content providers (say Netflix, YouTube, or television network websites) for premium space. If they are affiliated with specific content providers, they may make those websites or services available on every tier of service, including the lowest one. However, they may only make certain sites equal on the highest tiers, forcing their customers to pay higher prices for access to some of the content they wish to view.
Put it this way: imagine Netflix was only available at top speeds in the highest tier of service (priced at, say, $80 per month for 300GB of data). However, what if you didn’t need that much, and would be happy with $30 for 100GB? You could always choose that lower tier, but what if the service provider greatly reduced the speed of Netflix at that level? Many consumers would find themselves paying higher prices simply to access one thing when they really don’t need that much data.
The tiers of service without net neutrality can be understood as the lowest tier only allowing content that the service providers wish to promote (reducing speed and such of other content), and the highest tier where customers can browse anything without restriction. Some have been quoted as saying that“internet service should be like phone service: the phone company can’t make the connection worse if they don’t approve of the person you’re calling”—this can be considered a direct comparison to restricting access to content providers on the Internet.
Now That It Has Passed
So, we know what would happen if net neutrality did not exist. But there is, unfortunately, one potential downside to net neutrality stemming from Internet service providers. Many of them claim that these laws will allow the governing body (FCC) to have the “authority to set rates and impose tariffs that could translate into higher fees to consumers, stifle innovation and discourage companies from building new broadband networks and improving existing ones.”
It is entirely probable that consumers will pay more money for a faster connection due to the equal traffic (larger sites and services require higher bandwidth speeds and data amounts). There are some people making claims that net neutrality puts everyone in the proverbial “internet slow lane”, with no priority access or paid opportunities. With larger site taking up more space on the Internet, smaller website on the Internet may run slower, despite an equal opportunity for consumers to view them.
So, either way you look at it, the cost of consumer Internet plans is sure to rise. At the moment, Internet service providers have not gotten their way and may raise costs “because theirs are going to rise”. However, if they got their way, they have the freedom to charge businesses for higher delivery speeds, which can also translate to higher costs for consumers.
What Can Billshark Do?
Either way you look at it, Internet bills are likely to rise for at least one party (businesses or consumers), regardless of if net neutrality passes or not.
We know that data does not cost nearly as much as service providers charge consumers—in many cases, consumers are overpaying for services already, and if Internet plan prices are on the rise with the impending effects of the lack of net neutrality or the implementation of this concept, this situation may only worsen.
Unfortunately, negotiating with Internet service providers is an exhaustive task for the majority of consumers. It is time-consuming, difficult, and as a result, many do not consider the process worth it. Additionally, if Internet prices rise for a specific reason, negotiating with service providers becomes a little bit harder for a while afterwards.
This is where Billshark comes in. If you do not have time to negotiate, really hate being on the phone with service providers, and still wish to save some money on your Internet bills—we can help you. Our team of shark negotiators offer a way to lower your bills conveniently and effectively. What makes matters better is that we split the savings with you for the first year—if we do not lower your Internet bill, you do not have to pay.
Does this sound appealing to you? Contact us today for more information on our services.