In the last year you may have heard the term Net Neutrality thrown here and there coupled with a few memes of Ajit Pai. As memorable as the whole fiasco was, we are one year in the whole debacle. Today, we aim to see what has transpired after the repeal of Obama era law.
Before moving forward lets take a quick refresher on what Net Neutrality is.
Imagine virtual internet as physical place. In this space there are two entities who are communicating with each other. One is an Online Service like Google, Netflix, Facebook etc. and the other is you, the consumer. The body which connects Online Service with a Consumer is called an ISP. Now imagine the ISP as a highway on which all services are travelling in order to reach a Consumer. All the services travelling are going at a neutral speed and at the same distance. This is the concept of Net Neutrality. Now imagine the highway divided into a fast lane and a slow lane. The ISP now allows specific services to move on fast lane while rest move on the slow lane. This is negating to the concept of Net Neutrality.
In early 2018, Ajit Pai, the current chair of FCC declared Net Neutrality as a disruption for free and independent economies. He said that by imposing a restriction on the ISPs for what they can and can’t do, it will become disincentivizing. This can lead to a huge downfall in the market if these telecom giants refuse or disrupt the smooth running of services in low income areas or remote regions. He cites research by a respected economic scholar which claims that the within the two years of its implementation Net Neutrality Bill has caused a deficit of $2 billion in the investments in telecom sector amounting to 5%.
We are not entirely sure how correct that statement is although this is a definite situation that in 2016 when Obama administration footed the Net Neutrality bill it faced immense push back from giants like Verizon, Comcast and more. However, the online services have immensely encouraged it.
The Net Neutrality law was officially repealed on June 11, 2018, after immense lobbying. Soon after this California introduced a bill at state-level which reflected the core principles of Net Neutrality which was within hours of its introduction was sued by Justice Department as it fought against a federal level law. Can the FCC really block California’s bill? The two parties are on an unusual legal ground but it appears that the ISPs are on borrowed time.
Now that we have entered 2019 we are yet to see the expected fall out. Let’s have a look on where we stand as of now.
With the end of Net Neutrality it, many claim that the biggest and most open source platform for freedom and open speech has officially been snatched by the Government. The US public quite vocal about its political stances. Now that the internet space seems controlled, many expect that the information now disseminated has an agenda. Telecommunications now have an open option to drive their content more than that of an apparent competitor. Similarly, if online services now have to pay more in order to get a faster speed then they may push the ensuing costs onto the consumer in form of high prices. This may very well be a death sentence for small startups who may face hurdles in order to deliver their content to the consumer.
But what has really happened?
A year into post net neutrality repeal, and shockingly (or not), none of the claims made by pro-net neutrality camp have come true. Ironically, the internet speed has climbed up while the general home access to internet connections have increased by 23% since last year. What FCC’s Ajit Pai called as “light-touch approach” is definitely working.
Adding up to above, with no interference of a regulatory body in the working of ISPs, we are now also promised a 5G connection which admittedly will improve the network quality and easy access to online content.
Despite what appears to be a happy-go-lucky situation; companies like Skype, Hulu, and Netflix saw major drop in their reach because ISPs had competing services which were allegedly given more space than the rest.
The internet today is the heartbeat of social networking, curbing the distance between individuals. However, it is to be understood that the concept of a legal restriction to ensure free and fair service was only meant as a safeguard for futuristic actions that may result in an ill situation. If what Telecommunications reps and Ajit Pai claim is true that ISPs are there to provide an equal opportunity service then they should not have a problem with implementation of a law which does not restrict ISPs but ensures consumer or service friendly environment.
More is to be seen in this regards once California’s law dispute with FCC comes to a conclusion.