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What Will Happen If Net Neutrality Gets Enforced

net neutralityDecember 14th is the day that the Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote to replace the current rules paving the way for the enforcement of net neutrality. All indicators suggest that the new net neutrality regulations will be enforced by FCC, but the big question is; what will happen if the laws are enforced? Before we diverge into assessing the possible implications of enforcing the new laws we need to understand what net neutrality is and what it entails. Net neutrality refers to the principle that all web traffic should be treated equally, without any form of discrimination. It is what the Republican commissioners led by its chairperson Mr. Ajit Pai refers to as” Restoring Internet Freedom Order.”

The Debate

The big debate surrounding the net neutrality regulations don’t argue whether net neutrality is ethical in and of itself but rather whether government regulation is required to preserve it or whether the idea of regulating net neutrality is harmful and hampers future innovations. Microsoft, Google and other consumer advocate groups tend to support net neutrality pointing to the fact that Internet Service providers shouldn’t discriminate against certain types of content and connections. However, major telecommunications along with other anti-government regulation civil groups oppose the regulations arguing that governments shouldn’t in any way direct Internet Service Providers on how to run their businesses and that the move is set to hamper future innovations.

What to Expect After the Vote

The internet will change in three ways if the Republican commissioners get their way on net neutrality on December 14th.

The Smaller ISPs and Several Internet Startups Could be in for a Tough Time

Enforcing the regulations will mean more challenges for the small players in the industry. Critics of the proposal argue that without well-established neutrality rules, the playing field will only favor dominant companies such as Charter Communications and web giants such as Google. According to them, only established corporations will be able to compete favorably in the new environment. In fact, more than one thousand startups and upcoming innovators have written to the Pai-led commission stating that any measures taken to roll back net neutrality will hurt them.

Internet Fast Lanes

Consumer groups and small internet companies believe that rolling back net neutrality could lead to a scenario where Internet Service Providers intentionally offer fast internet speeds to customers who pay up and slow down the speeds of those who can’t adhere to the rules. This is what is usually referred to as paid prioritization and it is the most significant eventuality that worries those who support the rules. The supporters argue that the regulations may lead to a situation whereby broadband companies force video-streaming giants such as Netflix to pay extra bucks if they want their content to reach their customers without much interference.

A New regulator for Telecoms

If Pai gets his way, then it will mean that Internet Service providers such as Verizon, AT&T will no longer be under the supervision of FCC. Mr. Pai intends to remove their designation as “common carriers” which allowed FCC to regulate them just like other public utilities. This means that authority will be taken back to FTC which critics argue that it lacks what is required to regulate the Broadband companies in the same way as FCC.