What is net neutrality and why is it important?

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

You may have heard about net neutrality.

Pai distributed his alternative plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday last week in preparation for a December 14 vote on the proposal. With strong net neutrality protections, the internet is an open marketplace where any business can compete, allowing individuals to start companies easily, market their products across the country, and connect with customers anywhere worldwide. The rules banned broadband providers from "throttling" traffic.

"It's important because ISPs are integrated companies and often own their own content", says Christopher Terry, professor of media law at the University of Minnesota who supports net neutrality.

The regulations date back to 2005, but became official under the Obama administration in 2015. Some experts expect new, tiered service offerings, so you'll have a role interpreting that additional fine print on customers' plans. Large companies, like Google, Facebook and Amazon, have come out strongly opposed to changes and in support of net neutrality.

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"So net neutrality is basically a U.S. law that requires internet service providers to give everybody equal access to the internet", Don Vilfer said. They could charge more to access popular sites like Netflix and other streaming services that take up a lot of broadband. "In both ways, the cost filters back to the consumer".

President Donald Trump and his Federal Communications Commission appointees have chose to put an end to net neutrality ("Keep net neutrality", November 20) FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon associate general counsel, wants Internet service providers (including Verizon, Comcast, Direct TV, etc.) to determine what information their customers can see browsing the Internet. In an April 2017 speech televised on C-SPAN, he said, "The economics are simple here - the more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you're going to get". If removal of these regulations encourages new investments in broadband internet access services by local small businesses, that's a win for partners.

"I think people have gotten used to the internet working a certain way", says Terry.

Critics argue repealing the plan will end up with consumers paying ala carte for certain websites much like they do for certain channels on their cable bill.

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