Recently new rulings and decisions by the FCC have become quite worrisome, creating openings for big businesses such as Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, to restrict access to certain Internet services.
What does this mean for the average person? Recently Comcast made a deal with Netflix regarding bandwidth. Comcast determined that Netflix should pay more to them to make up for the high bandwidth used to send video to paying customers for the service. A year ago this wasn’t legal by definition of ISPs being “common carriers.” Now ISPs can restrict the flow of access to services you already pay for. Had Netflix decided to not comply, Comcast could have “legally” throttled down bandwidth to Netflix, potentially making the service unusable if so decided. This is unacceptable to us as we pay both companies for their services, yet one of them could decide for you as to how much of what you pay for is what you actually get.
If you notice advertised speeds for consumers they don’t promise a guaranteed, consistent service. They say “up to,” more or less translated as “you pay in full, we don’t have to supply a service equal to this.” That’s like paying to access a swimming pool at your apartment but only getting to swim in the kiddie pool on most days. They get to decide what you can easily access and what you have to wait for. Need to access an online research site that has references for your college paper? Meh, we’ll get it through in an hour since they haven’t paid us to care all that much. This will allow companies to charge you more and more for services you could very well see less and less.
This isn’t about the people and progress, it’s about trying to milk out as much dough as they can. Big businesses are the winners here as they can expand the ways in which they can make revenue.