|Details:||Net Neutrality, How Consumers Will Probably Be Effected:|
On December 14, the FCC is expected to undo Net Neutrality and implement new rules that reverse the principals of fair and open access to the Internet for businesses and consumers.
The new FCC rules go further than rolling-back Net Neutrality.
They provide a path for dishonest behavior by cable companies, at probably a huge cost to consumers:
Many small online companies fear their innovations will be hurt because telecom companies could force them to pay more based on the nature of their content.
Soon it won't be enough for innovative businesses to build apps and pay for bandwidth usage and hosting; they may also have to make a deal with cable giants or risk being slowed before reaching their customers.
- Certain websites and apps could be blocked by telecom companies with competing interests.
(If you ever felt frustrated when a website or video does not load, imagine what that feels like, but lasts forever.)
- Telecom companies are planning to prioritize certain online services with a buy-in business model called "paid fast lanes,"
everyone else may go into a "slow lane."
- The term "fast-lane" sounds great, sort of like a shiny new express-lane on the highway, but this will probably not be new infrastructure.
Internet providers already have fast-lanes which they use for communicating with their own equipment, and for existing television signals.
Cable companies will carve up existing infrastructure meant for general Internet traffic, which until now, they were not allowed to mess with.
It would be like shrinking a busy 6-lane highway into one 4-lane highway, which would create congestion, and turn the other 2-lanes to a private road that the cable providers can grant certain traffic to, called prioritization.
Consumers will not control which Internet traffic goes on the fast-lanes; only their own video services and existing Internet services like Netflix and Youtube (who will pay a fee to cable companies) will access the fast-lanes.
Consumers lose, since the cable companies will favor some content over others, regardless which bandwidth tier subscribers paid for.
- Using the same analogy, cable and wireless will also be given authority to "pull over" and "arrest" (block) Internet traffic that uses the roads, before reaching their customers' homes.
This is because cable & wireless companies will be re-classified from "common carriers" (basically Internet providers) to "information carriers".
Certain information, websites, apps, peer-to-peer telephony services, and any Internet business that competes with cable companies' political or business interests could be blocked.
- States will lose the right to pass their own laws which could protect locally-owned small businesses from being unfairly treated by telecom companies.
Only a handful of giant cable and wireless companies control the "last mile," the final leg of telecommunications that deliver content to homes and mobile devices.
Most consumers have no choice but one broadband Internet provider in their area.
Why do cable companies care about the Internet?
Large companies like
can certainly afford to pay for preferred treatment ("fast lane" Internet),
but the extra fees cable companies may impose on them will trickle down to consumers in the way of price increases.
- Fast Internet speeds caused
cable TV subscribers to leave in masses,
replacing expensive cable TV with Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services.
This happened partly because:
- Streaming video offered more features, like unlimited DVR and access to more content, and
- Streaming video services provided true 1080p and
4K HDR video streams
at cheaper prices over cable TV.
Cable has not figured out how to broadcast better than 720p and 1080i, both are half the quality of 1080p and one-fourth the quality of 4K.
- More choices.
More shows, more sports options (like out-of-market games), and more channels are available to those who pay for streaming video services.
Plus, people could watch on all mobile devices, not just TVs.
- Paying for fast Internet speed and a Netflix or YouTube TV subscription costs far less than cable TV.
- Cable companies want to own content, which explained the acquisitions of NBC and Yahoo to
They never had any power to stop competing content from reaching their subscribers' homes through Internet, but eliminating Net Neutrality would give them that power with little oversight.
As the phrase goes, "too much power corrupts," and soon corporate cable companies will get the power to become the gatekeepers of most of the Internet in the US.
Companies like Charter, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will get the power to decide which Internet services their customers can use, and how fast they can work.
This concept is not without precedent.
Some providers and countries around the world already block certain websites.
Visitors to China struggle with navigation because Google Maps is blocked, for example.
Even a cable analyst and investors were stunned by this sudden anti-consumer corporate giveaway to the nation's largest cable corporations.
The FCC chair, formerly on the payroll at Verizon, is operating cowardly by implementing such a
drastic change that could effect most Americans without any public hearings,
and without considering public outcry.
His new policies will probably put a lot of small businesses, jobs, and the economy at risk.
The only benefits seem to fall in the laps of telecom companies, of which there are only a handful, who have shown
anti-competitive and sometimes dishonest business practices in the past.
Few argue whether the Internet will change for the worse.
Actually, Comcast is so sure of it, they already told their shareholders fast-lanes will be a new revenue stream.
The only questions today:
how much will the Internet change, and will it be worth the cost of rising costs to consumers.