Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Keep the internet open: Net Neutrality explained, and why we need to protect the future of the web

Martyn Casserly | Feb. 26, 2015
You pay for a set amount of data, so what business is it of your ISP to decide where you use it? We explain Net Neutrality ahead of tomorrow's FCC vote to regulate the internet like a public utility, and why it should matter to all web users.

You pay for a set amount of data, so what business is it of your ISP to decide where you use it? We explain Net Neutrality ahead of tomorrow's FCC vote to regulate the internet like a public utility, and why it should matter to all web users. Visit Broadband Advisor.

Net Neutrality: FCC vote 26 February 2015

In May 2014 the FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a plan that would allow ISPs to create pay-to-play fast lanes for the biggest companies with the deepest pockets, giving them an unfair advantage. This proposal was shelved in the face of fierce public- and political opposition, and earlier this month Wheeler announced he would instead base new Net Neutrality rules on Title II of the Communications Act. This would give internet users the strongest protections possible, but whether the plan will go ahead is yet to be decided. Tomorrow (26 February) the FCC will vote on that proposal, and on whether the internet should remain open.

There remains opposition, and Sen. John Thune and Rep. Fred Upton are pushing their own Net Neutrality legislation in Congress that would, according to FreePress, "just protect the phone and cable broadband duopoly from oversight. It legalizes a lot of harmful discriminatory practices by preventing the FCC from moving on its own to adopt and enforce rules."

Mergers, whereby companies such as Comcast and AT&T are snapping up the smaller competition and gaining dominance in the US, are particularly concerning with regards to the future of the open internet.

Net Neutrality explained: What is Net Neutrality?

The London 2012 Olympic games had many poignant moments, but one in particular stood out for those who have a keen interest in technology. During the Opening Ceremony Sir Tim Berners-Lee, father of the internet, tweeted a message from the main stage that was displayed in huge letters all around the stadium. It read: 'This is for everyone.'

Berners-Lee's tweet was a reminder of how important the internet has become to us all. It's concerning, then, that in the past few years a political storm has been brewing over how we access the web.

The argument centres around the principle of 'Net Neutrality'.

Tim Wu, the Columbia Law School professor who coined the phrase 'Net Neutrality', stated that: "The internet was built on the principle that carriers take your data where you want it to go, and people are allowed to communicate over the internet without interference from those in the middle. It's a pretty profound principle."

See all: Compare mobile broadband dealsSee all: Compare home broadband deals

Net Neutrality: Merging content & service provision

Net Neutrality assumes the companies that supply you with a gateway to the web remain impartial to the content you enjoy and the sites you visit during your stay, treating all as equal. It's obvious, sensible, and exactly how the internet has functioned until now. But as we increase the amount of data we consume, in particular when streaming video from services such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube, there's talk of some ISPs wanting to charge more money to ensure the quality of content they deliver remains high.

 

1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.