Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #402 12/20/2017

Question: What is net neutrality?


Net neutrality is a rule that the FCC adopted in 2015 and voted last week to rescind.

Many things have been written about net neutrality and what having or not having it affects.

Net neutrality is a rule that applies to ISPs (Internet Service Providers, who we get our Internet service from like Comcast, Charter, EPB, Pineland, Northland, etc) and not to users.

Until 2015 the Internet operated without net neutrality. Then it was voted in and we have been under since. Then last week the FCC voted to end it and that must be published and then takes affect after a couple of months.

Net neutrality says that ISPs must send out the information across it at all the same rates. For instance as they transmit Netflix to the user they must also transmit my web site at the same speed. They cannot have some sites paying them extra money to send their site more quickly.

Without net neutrality they could have some sites be sent more quickly than others. The ISP can also block some sites, although either with or without net neutrality different places like schools can block sites.

To better understand net neutrality lets look at a comparison of traffic on highways.

Traditionally weight stations have been truck neutral. However in the last few years they are no longer truck neutral. In the past all trucks had to stop at all weight stations. Now if they have bought a pass they can go on pass them and on new ones they go across scale in road and only those over a weight have to stop. So some trucks fly down road and ohers stop.

Atlanta put in HOT lanes on I-85 north a few years ago and those who pay extra get to travel in special faster lanes, where all others have to fight the jams. The way Interstates where everyone traveled in same lanes was car neutral. Now it is no longer car neutral. HOV lanes take away car neutrality also as 2 or 3 person cars get to drive a different speed.

Many people are beginning to have more than one ISP provide that they can use so in a net neutral environment they can change if the ISP blocks sites. Georgia Power is testing gigabit service over power lines somewhere in Georgia now.

Net neutrality does not affect ISPs from charging us fro different speeds of service. They may be able to provide everyone 1000 mega service but change different rates if you get 20 or 30 or 100 megs. Net neutrality has no affect.

For the first 46 years of the Internet (its started in 1969) we did not have net neutrality and it grew massively and grew in speeds massively. The few times a ISP tried blocking a site either consumers complained and stopped or other methods used. Personally having traveled the world and seen how some governments manage the Internet and block sites, etc (in China when I was there my web site was blocked for some unknown reason), I personally would rather see the government not try to mange the providers as here in the USA we have developed many providers and seen lots and currently seeing more consolidation.

Some people would like certain Internet traffic to be given faster speeds and guaranteed bandwidth. For instance we are seeing many rural hospitals using more and more telemedicine. If a surgeon at a distance site is telling a doctor where you are how to treat you, would you not want that traffic guaranteed and with a faster speed thru congestion (sorta like flashing red light on an ambulance) rather than a number of people playing games or watching videos clog and slow down traffic then?

Not having net neutrality does not mean we will have to pay to see some sites, we had to do that in net neutrality and will without it. For instance you pay to view many newspaper articles etc. ISPs will continue to invest in faster Internet speeds as they can charge for those improvements. With or without net neutrality we can all still develop web sites.