Story and Photo by Justice Nawman
Slower internet speeds, paid premium packages for free forms of entertainment, and the restriction of certain websites once open to the public are just some of the harsh realities Americans will now possibly have to face. A new plan first introduced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Dec. 14, 2017, could possibly repeal what society knows as net neutrality.
Net neutrality ensures that anyone who is able to use the Internet can do so freely and equally with little to no restrictions and has since the introduction of the medium in the early 1990s. With the Internet being a prominent form of mass media across the globe, net neutrality proves to be an important driving force in the economy, and without it, the future of the powerful World Wide Web infrastructure remains uncertain. For consumers, the repeal of net neutrality could mean that they may have to be charged extra to stream certain content at faster rates, which could limit itself to larger businesses who can afford it and could also prevent users from surfing certain websites they may have previously been able to search before as part of a marketing ploy for businesses to attract more customers.
While the price packages are an inconvenience to those who are already struggling financially and have become accustomed to the expenses of their existing plans, the new increased costs may also put a strain on newly formed businesses, commonly referred to as “startups” who don’t have the money to pay for faster content or as much influence and pull as other big businesses to get the word out about their newly implemented services. Competition may be vital to the workplace, but the repeal of net neutrality could bring about unhealthy competition and leave consumers with a difficult decision on who they choose to purchase their entertainment from in the future, creating a great deal of financial instability.
Ajit Pai, successor to the previous chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, and notable supporter of the plan to eliminate net neutrality, made a shocking revelation in a speech ahead of the controversial vote. The speech seemed to reverse his previous stance on net neutrality, revisiting certain points he made on the topic by claiming that the internet is “the greatest free-market innovation in history” and reassuring Americans that they will still be able to access the Internet without restrictions; what was confusing though is that he still voted to repeal the whole idea, which raised the eyebrows of critics and consumers alike.
However, getting rid of net neutrality doesn’t mean that consumers will have to pay for everything they use on a daily basis and what a vast majority of the digital population does not know and misinterprets about this new deal is that this isn’t the end of the internet. Users will still have the opportunity to surf the web freely, they will just do so at slower speeds, unless they are willing to pay extra and upgrade, which is better than nothing.
Although nothing has been set in stone and the rules haven’t gone into effect quite yet, the world is patiently awaiting the final decision and holding their breath for a deal that could change the face of our society as we know it.