Net Neutrality is No Longer an Option

Eric Braddock Net Neutrality

In case you didn't know it there is a fight over net neutrality. This fight will decide if the Internet will become controlled by the richest companies in the world or remain an even ground in which everyone can enjoy and compete. With the Internet showing up in places like cars, thermostats, garage doors, ovens, and more this fight has never been more critical. Whoever controls the Internet may end up controlling many aspects of our lives.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, has released a document outlining how he believes the free flow of traffic on the Internet should be preserved. This proposal is in direct response to many court rulings in the past and how they have indicated to the FCC that ISPs must be considered a telecommunications service rather than an information service. This will be done by classifying them under title II of the telecommunications act and placing them under the purview of the FCC. Tom Wheeler's proposal outlines this exactly. The proposal also includes mobile data and all essential Internet access, just to make sure nothing tricky happens down the road.

On February 26, 2015 the FCC commissioners will vote on the proposed ISP change. It may be modified before that time but if it's goes to vote as it is now their decisions will have profound effects on many different aspects of American life.<

Health products

Remember the wristbands accounted how many steps you took it a day? These little items led to much more advanced technology that now monitors things such as heart rhythm, high blood pressure, blood sugar, early-onset heart attack, and more. All of these devices must be connected to the Internet in order to operate properly. Who's going to decide how quickly that data goes back and forth from the jogger with type II diabetes to the server that make sure he's not in a coma? What if the company that owns that particular product doesn't have the money to be in the "Fast Lane" of this new Internet? This is a life or death decision, albeit a very specific one.

Car Safety

Smart cars must have fast, reliable Internet connections. These cards may not drive themselves yet but they contain a great deal of automation that drivers have come to rely on. In the very near future cars will alert surrounding cars of their current positions of the hit each other and provide warnings to drivers. Information about possible accidents ahead, traffic conditions, weather, and more will all be made available to drivers via their cars Internet connection. All of these options are currently in the planning stages, but they all rely on an Internet that is available to everyone the same rate.

Family

Text messaging is now more common than verbal phone communication. It's fast, easy, and not as intrusive as a phone call. Currently mobile phone calls are protected under title II as that is data traveling across the phone network, data is not so protected. The FCC proposal would protect texts in the same way that it protects phone calls, making sure all of them are treated equally. This could also be expanded to protect purchases.

Video Streaming

More viewers are watching Netflix Instant than cable TV. This is true now and the gap is growing despite cable's attempts to close it with on demand viewing and other offerings. Regardless of their attempts it is clear that entertainment is online, and nothing is going to stop it. Is the amount of traffic now created by Netflix that has started the battle over net neutrality and telecommunications companies are in a panic over what this video streaming company can do. Many carriers are now charging Netflix for faster access which of course is what this debate is all about. Unfortunately Netflix did pay for faster access, but this only came after several carriers extorted by slowing data feeds from Netflix.