This month’s Pro is Kristen Day, Web Developer at OnYourMark, LLC. Kristen explains why Net Neutrality is something every Internet user needs to know about.
We’ve all heard the famous Microsoft slogan, “Where do you want to go today?” With the Internet, this question is easily answered. An Internet connection allows you to look up anything, any time on the World Wide Web.
Imagine if you were suddenly banned from looking at anything your heart desires. Consider these fictional examples:
- You type in Ford’s website and see Chevy’s website appear.
- You enter a search in Google and are routed to Yahoo.
- You look for consumer information about your Internet Service Provider’s poor service, and cannot access websites with negative comments about your ISP.
- Your attempts to view an online video always time out.
If Net Neutrality is not preserved, these fictional examples could become reality.
Net Neutrality Defined
Network Neutrality (”Net Neutrality” for short) ensures that the Internet is a neutral field for everyone. Using your Internet connection that you purchase from an ISP (Internet Service Provider), enables you to look at the smallest blog or the largest company website. If Net Neutrality is not preserved, your freedom to use the Internet as you see fit could be eliminated. Large telecom companies that provide Internet access like AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast are hard at work lobbying against Net Neutrality.
If ISPs are not required to follow Net Neutrality, your ISP could control the content you see online. If an ISP has a deal with an advertiser or content provider, it could block access to competing websites. Just like a television network, the ISP would be in charge of what you see and when you see it.
Net Neutrality and Life in the Fast Lane
Another potential downfall if Net Neutrality is not preserved is “pay-perspeed.” To some extent, Internet users do pay for speed. A customer paying more for DSL will receive higher speed access than a dial-up user, yet both can look at whatever they choose. Pay-per-speed would incorporate charges based on what you use and view online. If you do a lot of video viewing, you may be asked to pay more. If your bank is not partnered with your ISP, you may have to pay more to access your bank’s site because it not “preferred” by your ISP. Think of pay-per-speed as a “fast lane” on
the toll way, similar to the I-Pass offered on the Illinois Toll way. If you pay for an I-Pass electronic transmitter, you can go through the fast lanes without stopping. If you do not have the transmitter, you’re stuck in the slow manual lanes. With pay-per-speed in place, you may have to pay a “toll” to access certain sites or be left in the slow lanes.
Net Neutrality Legislation
On June 8, 2006, the House of Representatives passed the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006″ (COPE Act), a major telecommunications reform bill. Congressman Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) attempt to attach a Net Neutrality amendment to the COPE Act failed. The COPE Act is now pending Senate approval.
How Net Neutrality Affects YOU!
Net Neutrality affects everyone who uses the Internet in any form! If your company has a website, you could be forced to “partner” with an ISP to guarantee that all users can see your website. While a large company may be able to afford the fees, many small businesses could be priced out. Even Internet giants like Google and eBay were once the “little guys.” Net Neutrality allowed them to become massive successes, which is why Google and eBay are two large companies fighting to preserve Net Neutrality.
If you are concerned about preserving Net Neutrality, here are some resources and ways to make contact:
- Visit SaveTheInternet.com to keep up-to-date on Net Neutrality legislation.
- Call or write to your elected officials, asking them to preserve Net Neutrality.
- Call or write to your ISP, voicing your concerns about Net Neutrality.
- Blog about Net Neutrality.
- Talk to your friends and family about Net Neutrality.
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