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What the End of Net Neutrality Means




They wanted a pro-business President they said. Well they sure got one, and boy are they gonna pay for it. As Trump’s FCC prepares to end net neutrality, at the request of the big ISPs (internet service providers), or “telecoms,” prepare for sweeping changes across all of your internet usage and all of your devices, perhaps most pointedly your television.

Up until now, all internet content providers, like Netflix or anyone with a website, posted their stuff on the internet and it all moved at the fastest speed available. In other words, there was a “neutral” playing field between the big guys and the little guys.

That’s over.

Now the big guys like Verizon, Comcast, and other huge entities can throttle or choke down content if they want to, and charge you more if you want it faster. Imagine Netflix with three tiers (instead of one like it is now). Instead of a flat fee of $10 a month for everyone, it’d be $10 for slow speed, $15 for medium speed, and $20 a month for high speed, you know, the speed that actually works.

Or picture this. I get Netflix through my ISP Cox. Under the new rules Cox could throttle down the streaming speed of Netflix in order to drive me to their own streaming services. It’s like having Domino’s in charge of all pizza delivery – from Pizza Hut down to the corner mom and pop pizzeria. I have a feeling the Domino’s delivery guy might just accidentally “lose” few of those other pizzas along the way.

As industry watchers have been saying for years, this is a total disaster. And it’s much, much worse than just punishing the poor — it has far reaching political and societal ramifications about access to controversial information, rural coverage, etc. The end of net neutrality is bad. Very bad.

Proponents (like the big telecom corporations) have been whining for years that net neutrality stifled innovation. Uh, look around. The internet is pretty freaking innovative. It hasn’t seemed to stifle anything. In fact, their argument is pretty much opposite-world. (Kind of like the claim that cutting taxes for the rich helps the poor — I can’t stop laughing every time I hear that one). Ending net neutrality will stifle innovation because young start-ups with little capital will have to operate at slower internet speeds, while media giants who can afford faster speeds will beat them into submission. Ending net neutrality crushes competition, stifles innovation, and hurts consumers.

Thanks Trump voters! You sure are making America great again.

Peter Bolland is the philosophy and humanities department chair at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California where he teaches world religions, Asian philosophy, world mythology, and ethics. Bolland is also a columnist for both Unity Magazine and the San Diego Troubadour. An award winning singer-songwriter and poet, Bolland draws on the world’s wisdom traditions as a frequent lecturer and performer throughout the San Diego region.

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