Net Neutrality

laptop on table

Net Neutrality: “a network design paradigm that argues for broadband network providers to be completely detached from what information is sent over their networks; that no bit of information should be prioritized over another”  from: UC Berkley: Network Neutrality 

Basically, that means no content on the internet is given preferential treatment over the other and under this policy, all websites have equal chances of getting found by web users. However, what about bandwith limitations and potential cost to internet consumers? Read on to find out more about this policy, both the pros and the cons.

Under net neutrality, smaller websites have greater chances of getting hits. Without net neutrality, bigger corporations like Netflix or Expedia can pay to have more bandwidth. Since Netflix streams movies and is widely used, it eats up plenty of bandwidth. Bandwidth is sort of the infrastructure of the web and larger files, likes movies, need more bandwidth than things like articles or pictures to be able play and download properly. Because Netflix uses up so much bandwidth it can get sluggish and videos take longer to buffer. Without net neutrality, Netflix can pay internet service providers to give them more bandwidth than websites who haven’t paid in which case Netflix users will get fast streaming videos while smaller video content website users will get stuck with long buffering periods.

On the flip side, some argue that net neutrality has the potential to clog up the internet. There is so much content out there that there should be some sort of filter for what content is more important and people should have more access to. However, how can one decide which websites are more important and deserve more bandwidth? Who gets to decide that? In the case of no net neutrality, it looks like big companies and those with money get the say who is allowed more bandwidth. Is that fair? The internet is a great starting base for smaller organizations and companies to blossom because it’s accessible and it would be less so if those who are wealthier hog all the bandwidth.

I believe it would be better if there was just more bandwidth around. However, I am unsure what would be the best course of action to make that happen. Internet service providers are unwilling to loose out on profit and if they were required to expand their infrastructure to have more bandwidth, they would likely pass on the cost to the consumer. Many consumers would not be able to afford that and so likely, there would be less people on the internet as a result, but there would be way more bandwidth to begin with. That whole plan is counterproductive. On the other hand, we could make expanding bandwidth a government project. The only issue in doing so is it would make the government more in control of the internet and with the NSA scares that might not be such a good idea for concerned citizens. A possible solution would be to have government enforce a certain bandwidth minimum on internet service providers and also restrictions on how to pay for this bandwidth increase where it doesn’t rely to heavily on the consumer.

Net Neutrality is important to web users and web content creators because it provides more access to smaller websites. If I wanted to advertise my website full on, but have to compete for bandwidth against bigger, richer sites, I’d probably never be able to grow and neither would a lot of individual web content makers like me. The internet is a place of innovation and I believe we need to find a way to allow for net neutrality while compromising with the needs of the internet service providers and corporations.

To find out about more recent info on net neutrality, check out:

PC World

American Civil Liberties Union

The FCC 

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