Your daily routine is at risk.
I said that to get your attention; but it is correct. Stick with me and I’ll try to make this brief.
Almost everything we do, service we receive, purchase we make, whatever and wherever, involves the Internet.
That includes things as mundane as swiping your debit card at the grocery store, or, for that matter, the cash register just checking the price on the items you’re buying.
It also, of course, includes emails, movie streams, online games, uploading photos, Vonage calls and all of that.
All of these things, and many thousands more, depend on access to the Internet. Unfettered access.
Right now the Internet is “neutral.” It is open and unrestricted for whatever traffic needs or wants to travel on it.
Internet neutrality rules ensure that everyone’s digital traffic gets the same, first-come-first-served access to the fastest route available to wherever it is going.
This neutrality is crucial to all of us getting what we expect, and what we need, from the Internet.
Who pays for the Internet?
We all pay for the Internet. Not with taxes, but with access fees that we pay to our Internet service providers (ISPs).
Governments do pay for some of it, but it is the same as us; they pay to use it. The Internet was originally built by governments, but that was decades ago. Now even the US Government is just another customer.
The infrastructure of the Internet is privately owned by corporations. This is the “backbone” of the Internet that you may have heard about.
These corporations have built their pieces of the Internet backbone and they do deserve to make a profit – and they do. The costs and profits are more than covered the fees paid to them by the likes of you and me, and the government, and by other corporations.
Who wants to end net neutrality?
Some of the corporations who own parts of the Internet infrastructure want to be able to manipulate access to the Internet.
Their rationale for doing this varies. Cable owners, like Comcast, say that video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu generate more traffic over the Internet than their access fees can cover.
This ignores the fact that the traffic only goes out from Netflix if a paying Comcast Internet customer requests it.
It also ignores the coincidence that services like Netflix also directly compete with the cable companies’ first product – cable TV.
Telecom companies, like Verizon and ATT, who own giant hunks of the Internet “backbone” say that they should be able to give priority to their own traffic – as they see fit – or that they should be able to charge more for certain types of digital traffic. Namely, things like Vonage and Skype and other low cost Internet telephone and video calling services.
Why keep the Internet neutral?
The Internet backbone is crucial public infrastructure, no matter who owns a given piece.
The folks who want to influence the flow of the Internet promise that they will only manipulate the things that we agree that they can control.
But that already isn’t so. For example; Comcast says that their Internet service is fast and open, but anyone around Pawling who’s tried to get “HBO Go” or “Showtime Anytime” on their Comcast Internet connection knows that Comcast is already restricting access to Internet services that it doesn’t want to compete with.
Comcast, or Verizon DSL or any other Internet service provider, could just as easily block your emails, your store credit card machine, your online orders, political messages, or whatever it liked.
A business might find their ads or promotions obstructed in favor of a competitor, or “just because.”
The net can’t be a little bit neutral. My Visa card swipe can’t be handled differently from your Amex swipe. Your email can’t be handled differently from mine.
The FCC has a set of proposed rule changes that, if accepted, will end net neutrality. They looking for public comment officially at the FCC website at www.FCC.gov/openinternet and unofficially they are clearly watching social media too.
Be sure to let your representatives at all levels of government know that net neutrality is important to you and that it should be defended. The city and village governments have considerable clout in this because they are the ones who make the local franchise contracts with the cable companies.
Hoping, as always, that this is all quite clear and useful; nevertheless if I can fill in some details or help with anything on your computers, please don’t hesitate to call: Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy. www.PawlingComputerGuy.com