Communities Fight for Net Neutrality


Emily Chen, Staff Writer

On Dec. 14, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) will vote to remove regulations guaranteeing net neutrality. Net neutrality is the concept that Internet companies should provide Internet of the same speed and reliability to all of their customers. The idea was put into effect in 2015, but the FCC’s vote could take the fairness away. If the regulations are removed, Internet companies would have the right to throttle, or slow, the Internet. Additionally, they could block certain sites and provide better Internet to customers who pay more.

Internet providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast, are against the idea of net neutrality. They see benefits ending net neutrality. For example, without net neutrality in place, they could limit the use of bandwidth to prevent excessive overuse. This means that the bandwidth for video streaming sites and other websites that send large amounts of data would be regulated to save money.

However, most people support net neutrality and what it stands for. They see the Internet as a service that should be equal, available, and affordable for everyone, much like telephones and the postal service. Net neutrality keeps up competition between Internet providers, too. Competition prevents one company from overpowering the others, and possibly starting a monopoly. Without net neutrality, Internet providers could control and influence the sites that customers visit. For example, an Internet company could slow streaming on a popular movie site, but keep speeds fast on a different one. This might cause customers to switch to a streaming site that they prefer. Furthermore, with net neutrality gone, companies could put paid priorities into place. With paid priorities, Internet providers could introduce “fast lanes” and “slow lanes”. The providers could give faster and more reliable Internet to customers who choose to pay for the faster option.

Communities across the U.S. are preparing for the possible end of net neutrality in a unique way: creating their own Internet. By building their own Internet infrastructure, which consists of wires, antennae, routers, and other technology, cities are able to provide fast, public, equal Wifi to residents. This system has already proven to be effective, as some communities have had their own homemade infrastructures in place for years. Since these infrastructures are built and owned by the cities, they can set their own rules, and provide net neutrality. Although it is not yet certain which side will win the FCC’s vote, these communities are ready to fight for net neutrality.

Graphic courtesy of INSIDESOURCES.COM