What is net neutrality? Here’s what you need to know

Summary 

  • In net neutrality, data available on the internet are treated equally by the internet service providers, businesses, and government.
  • In its absence, internet service providers can prevent users from visiting specific websites by slowing the speeds or redirecting them to another website.
  • Net neutrality allows freedom of speech, promote competition, and promote equal advertising opportunity.

Net neutrality refers to the notion that all data on the internet are treated equally by the internet service provider, businesses, and government irrespective of the content, application, user, and devices. In net neutrality, the internet service provider (ISP) is not supposed to slow down or block the content from the users.

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The basic idea here is that all web traffic should be treated equally. This means that ISP should not differentiate between the data by moving specific information into fast lanes whilst blocking or discriminating against other material.

Why is net neutrality important?

In the absence of net neutrality, internet service providers can prevent users from visiting specific websites by slowing the speeds for services such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) or even redirecting the user from one website to another competing website.

Another challenge that can be there in the absence of net neutrality is that companies can buy priority access to ISP customers. As a result, It’s possible that big players in the market pay these service providers to provide faster and more reliable access to their websites than their rival companies. As a result, it could prevent innovative start-up services that cannot buy priority access from these ISPs.

Advantages and disadvantages of net neutrality

Net neutrality has been a part of a huge debate for years, and this is primarily because different parties perceive the concept differently. While the idea may seem advantageous to some, others believe it will do more harm than good. Let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of net neutrality.

Advantages

Freedom to express views:

As per the concept of net neutrality, any content, article, news services are available to the users over the internet unless the content is illegal. Therefore, through net neutrality, the users can express their voice to the world for a cause.

Promotes competition:

Net neutrality ensures that big companies do not have an advantage over small start-up businesses. For example, big players like Google cannot pay ISPs for faster access to their websites. Also, it ensures that small video service streaming services should theoretically be as speedy and glitch-free as Netflix.

Net neutrality removes the possibility for the internet fast lane, where ISPs can charge content creators for sufficient bandwidth to provide their services accurately.

Equal Advertising opportunity:

Net neutrality provides equal opportunity for each individual to market and promote via social media. Furthermore, it ensures that it gives equal opportunity to small and big businesses start on the same level when it comes to the advertisement via social networking sites.

Users have the option to choose:

Net neutrality gives users an option to choose from one or more options.

In the absence of net neutrality, the biggest spenders would be seen first as customers would value the money they pay, more than the service provided. Also, if any particular ISP support Netflix, it would constantly be buffering its rival companies and making it tedious for the users and frustrating to use.

ISP’s cannot increase price arbitrarily:

The most significant advantage of having net neutrality rules in place is that ISPs cannot randomly increase the price or charge more for particular services or better speed. As per the net neutrality law, all the content created on the internet ranks equal and cannot be discriminated against or controlled with increased fees to continue function the way it should be.

Monitoring of any illegal or criminal activities:

In present times, criminal activities via the internet are illegal. Therefore, a user cannot post any illegal acts like buying and selling drugs. In case any content is available on the internet, it is regulated. 

Disadvantages

Less network innovation

With the increase in more complex internet services, there is a significant demand for high bandwidth. The rise in the demand for bandwidth has forced providers to increase the spend on capacity, thus, redirecting resources away from service innovation.

Access to objectionable content

Because of the network neutrality rules, online age-sensitive content can be accessed by young children, primarily via mobile devices. In many countries, such content is banned, and others demand verification of the user when they access the content on their website.

Other than this, the removal of net neutrality would provide ISPs to crack the peer-to-peer file-sharing websites, which is a significant source of illegal content and piracy.

Injustice to telecom companies

Companies like Google have created services that enable them to make free calls over the internet. This could be an injustice to companies from the telecom space who spend considerable amounts on building the network.

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