Wondering what net neutrality means and why you should care? The best analogy I've come up with is your cable TV bill. If you're old enough you remember when television was free, when families watched the Ed Sullivan show (see the Beatles in 1964) together on Sunday nights. It's important to understand what is net neutrality before it's too late. Thankfully many states (16 so far) are suing the US government to overturn the recent decision by the FCC to repeal the net neutrality rules.
What is Net Neutrality?
So let's start by defining what is net neutrality. Then we'll walk through my best ideas on why the FCC voted to drop the rules for regulating the nternet.
- Net neutrality defines an open internet, where all internet service providers (ISPs) must treat data on the internet the same. It prohibits discrimination through blocking, throttling, prioritizing or charging differently by user, content type/publisher, website, application or platform (laptop, mobile device, etc).
- In 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access (the internet) as a telecommunications service (a utility). This meant ISPs would be subject to common carrier protections under Title II of the Communications Act and section 706 of the Telecommunications Act.
Why ISPs Don't Want Net Neutrality
As consumers we focus on what we have to pay for our cell phone plans, cable subscriptions and Internet access … on a monthly basis. As consumers we're voting with our wallets. People are watching less television and dropping their cable TV subscriptions. With declining cable TV subscriber revenue, ISPs like Verizon and Comcast want maximum flexibility to replace lost revenues. That's why they've been lobbying for years to eliminate net neutrality.
Here are interesting statistics from eMarketer.com which predicts that by 2012, the pay TV subscriber base will shrink by almost 10% or 20 million subscribers (times $100/mo = $20 billion in lost revenue). And cord cutters will grow to the same size as … cord nevers. I'm a cord cutter – what are you?
- People are watching more digital video, and less television.
- Cord cutters – there are currently 22.2 million cord cutters, people who have cancelled their cable TV subscriptions.
- Cord nevers – are people who have never paid for traditional TV packages.
- By 2021, the number of pay TV viewers will drop from 196 million to just 181.7 million.
How Losing Net Neutrality May Affect Consumers
It's happening faster than you might realize. Our monthly digital expenses (cell phones, television, video games, music and more) are increasing. As consumers look for ways to reduce these expenses, you might save on one item … but the cost of other things is likely to go up.
Now that the FCC has voted against net neutrality, we're likely going to see our Internet plans go up with ridiculous packages like we have today for cable TV. Yes, that's already happening in other countries that don't protect net neutrality. Check out the Internet bundles from Spain (shown above).
Articles Reviewed to Learn What is Net Neutrality
My focus is on the true cost of home ownership, and that includes the digital products and services you use in your home. I've written about Why You Need to Understand Your Internet Bill and How to Pay a Lower Verizon Bill. Learning more about what is net neutrality was important to me because my business is online and totally dependent on the Internet. So I used my technology background (29 yrs at IBM) and curiosity about business models to write this important story for you!
Here are the best articles I read while developing my ideas, as you might find them interesting too.
- What Everyone Gets Wrong in the Debate Over Net Neutrality, the same debate/vote in 2014.
- No one is getting internet TV right — yet, explains the current alternatives to paid TV.
- eMarketer Lowers US TV Ad Spend Estimate as Cord-Cutting Accelerates, explains the decline paid TV subscribers and advertising.
- wccftech (Where Consumers Come First), Before Net Neutrality, Internet Providers Consistently Abused Their Powers (Brief Timeline).
- What is Internet Peering? explains the Internet infrastructure being used by the major ISPs.
- What will happen now that net neutrality is gone? We asked the experts, shows what experts are predicting will happen as a result of the FCC's repeal on net neutrality.
- Local phone charges have soared since the break-up of AT&T, and response to regulations.
- TeleTruth, The Book of Broken Promises – shows with a Time Warner Cable bill, illustrates an industry out of control.
- Net Netrality on Wikipedia.
- Consumer spending on Net access and digital entertainment continues to rise