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Americans, their only choice for a high capacity

Net Neutrality and You: connection is their local cable monopoly. (Vox, n.d.)
What to Know Without competition, the largest ISPs like Comcast
and Verizon can charge customers any amount they
By Emily Baker, PayneGroup, Inc. see fit for whatever speed of service they choose.
Without net neutrality, these companies could begin
Net Neutrality is walking the red carpet of to manipulate the speeds at which certain data is
buzzwords right now. Youve probably heard a lot of transmitted and customers would have no say in the
passionate commotion on this topic coming anywhere matter. Its like paying extra for premium TV channels,
from President Obama to your Twitter feed. Lets take you could notice preferential treatment given to data
a look at what net neutrality means and three of the from content providers based on the extra fees you
core issues driving the debate. cough up. So, with only one ISP option, you can watch
your cable bill rise and keep a wary eye on iffy
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY? connection speeds, or wave goodbye to internet
access in your home.
Delving into the world of net neutrality, you might find
yourself relearning how the Internet works or Folks on the other side of the net neutrality debate
reviewing the basics of information delivery. The idea believe that more regulations will hinder competition;
of an open internet isnt new and the term itself if service from ISPs becomes bad enough, demand will
(Network Neutrality) was coined in 2003, but its soar and new companies will enter the scene. Some
become a household name due to a recent lawsuit argue the monopolies the cable companies enjoy isnt
brought against the Federal Communications their fault but that of local municipalities. Berin Szoka,
Commission (FCC) by Verizon. The court ruled that the Matthew Starr, and Jon Henke of TechFreedom write,
FCC did not have authority to impose two of three Deploying broadband infrastructure isnt as simple as
orders in the Open Internet Order of 2010, vacating merely laying wires underground: thats the easy part.
both the order preventing the blocking or degrading The hard part and the reason it often doesnt
of access to lawful content and the order forbidding happen is the pre-deployment barriers, which local
discrimination against lawful network traffic. But, Alex governments and public utilities make unnecessarily
Wilhelm of TechCrunch reminds us to keep in mind expensive and difficult. (Berin Szoka, 2013) Open
that the proposed rules are not final. The FCC is access to publicly owned rights-of-way would
seeking input for 60 days . . . on how to best proceed encourage more ISPs to grow and develop; the rules
to protect the Internet. . . . (Wilhelm, 2014) After this of capitalism would naturally lead to healthy
period ends on July 15th of this year, the FCC has a competition.
chance to draft a response and decide on a path
One of the biggest worries expressed by the pro-net
PROVIDERS (ISPS) neutrality camp is that a two tier internet will stifle
Lets say you move into a new apartment and one of innovation. An editorial from the Boston Globe puts it
the first things you want to do is get Internet access. this way: Companies like Facebook, Google, and
Its time to decide on an Internet Service Provider Twitter have been able to grow from nothing into
(ISP). But do you really have a choice? Legal scholar global titans in part because they faced no barriers to
Susan Crawford points out, . . . for more than 77% of entry; a good new Internet product, even one

Net Neutrality and You: What to Know
launched out of a garage or a dorm room, could gain agenda without regard for the public, leading to
traction easily because Internet service providers had lawsuits and new regulations further down the line.
to let their subscribers access all sites equally. (The The time to act is now, before the monopolies grow
Boston Globe, 2014) If newer, smaller companies cant and civil liberties are violated. Without net neutrality,
afford to jump into the fast lane, how could they ever they maintain, ISPs will give preferential treatment
hope to compete with established companies already not only to those who can pay, but to those whose
there? Eleven Democratic senators crafted a letter to beliefs are in line with their own.
the FCC urging stronger net-neutrality regulations,
stating, The genius of the Internet is that it allows The ACLU cites examples of companies abusing their
innovation without permission, not innovation only power, for instance the blocking of a union website in
after cutting a deal with the ISP and receiving the the midst of a labor dispute by Canadian telecom
FCCs blessing for it. (Sasso, 2014) Keeping the Telus. The website also lists Comcasts throttling of
Internet a neutral, equal-opportunity, marketplace BitTorrent and the censorship of a streaming concert
means everyone enjoys a fair chance at making it big. by AT&T. So far these incidents have been just that
incidents. This kind of behavior has not yet become
But some will argue the opposite that the Internet is broadly accepted or baked in to the structure of the
currently and has been warped to play favorites. Internet. But without enforceable network neutrality
Harold Feld, the senior vice president of consumer- rules in place, ACLU concludes, that could quickly
advocacy group Public Knowledge, emphasizes, The happen. (American Civil Liberties Union, n.d.)
question isnt whether the Internet treats everyone
equallybecause it doesnt already. (Sasso, 2014) On the other hand, should we rely on the government
Hes referring to several ways larger companies can to democratically regulate the Internet? Tech writer
manipulate what theyre working with to get ahead. and CEO Joshua Steimle theorizes, If we choose
For example, if your company has the resources, you politicians [to allocate Internet bandwidth], we will
can pay for Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to see the Internet become another mismanaged public
move your data. This speeds up content delivery time monopoly, subject to political whims and increased
because the CDNs may exist all over the country, scrutiny from our friends at the NSA. (Steimle, 2014)
cutting the distance the data has to travel. If youre someone with a recent memory of heading to
the local DMV, you might not sympathize with the
Google, Apple and Microsoft, to name a few, have idea of entrusting a slow-moving government to keep
invested billions building their own infrastructure to up with rapid, inevitable changes in technology.
give them an edge over the competition. Websites can
also seek an advantage by manipulating search engine SO WHATS TO BE DONE?
results. It makes sense that Google will want to see
Net neutrality fans advocate for categorizing ISPs as
their sites at the top of the list, and companies that
common carriers. So what does this mean and how
pay for ads will enjoy the spotlight. Netflix has already
will it ensure an open web? Currently, common
agreed to pay Comcast for faster and more reliable
carriers are obligated by law to ship and deliver
access. There are many examples of companies with
anything (legal) at a reasonable rate without
power and funds already profiting from paid
discrimination. Railroads, public airlines and your
prioritization, rendering the Internet non-neutral for
telephone company all fall into this group. As common
carriers, ISPs would be barred from giving preferential
treatment to any content providers, removing the
GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE AND potential for fast lanes and the tampering of any
If the government doesnt step in now, they will have
to sooner or later. Thats the sentiment expressed by On the other hand, we could let market pressure drive
net neutrality advocates. They feel that without strict competition. Continuing unregulated by the FCC, ISPs
guidelines, ISPs will progressively push their own might make things worse for a while, but thats what

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Net Neutrality and You: What to Know
drives innovation and leads to new technologies. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Really, we should already feel the pressure for more
options since consumers in the U.S. currently spend Emily Baker is an
much more on broadband access for slower speeds Administrative Assistant at
than other folks around the world (according to a PayneGroup. After graduating
study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation from the University of
and Development, the US. ranked 30th out of 33 Washington with a degree in
countries when looking at price and speed combined.) English, she headed east to
(Geoghegan, 2013) If ISPs are classified as common enjoy good pizza and great
carriers, the opportunity for effective solutions to people watching in Brooklyn,
develop disappears. NY. A customer service enthusiast, Emily is constantly
seeking ways to bring delight to the world, especially
Heres the dealno one really knows whats going to through social media. Currently residing in Seattle, she
happen. The question isnt if the Internet is going to enjoys camping, cross-stitching and cultivating new
shift and grow, it is how the changes will transpire. culinary skills.
Whether you worry the Internet will be destroyed by
net neutrality regulations mandated by the FCC or see REFERENCES
a similar demise without, the truth is the Web, as we
American Civil Liberties Union, n.d. What Is Net Neutrality?.
know it, is only 25 years old and will continue to [Online] Available at:
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Berin Szoka, M. S. a. J. H., 2013. Dont Blame Big Cable. Its Local
ABOUT PAYNEGROUP Governments That Choke Broadband Competition. [Online]
Available at:
PayneGroup is a trustworthy name in computer focusing-on-just-cable-companies-and-blame-local-government-
software, training and publishing. We have been in for-dismal-broadband-competition/ [Accessed 2014].
this industry since 1994 and have earned a reputation Geoghegan, T., 2013. Why is broadband more expensive in the
as an honest vendor that provides quality products US?. [Online] Available at:
and services. 24528383 [Accessed 2 July 2014].
Sasso, B., 2014. The Net Has Never Been 'Neutral'. [Online]
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We work diligently to ensure that every client is
never-been-neutral-20140513 [Accessed 2014].
satisfiedwhether its a sole practitioner who needs
Steimle, J., 2014. Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality?.
to rid documents of metadata, or a large international [Online] Available at:
law firm that is upgrading to new products and
requires project management and training. We have only-techie-against-net-neutrality/ [Accessed 2014].
become the gold standard in the legal and corporate The Boston Globe, 2014. Ruling against net neutrality is a blow to
industry for providing unparalleled customer service innovation. [Online] Available at:
to every size organization.
innovation/D47JK940OQ9jcwYL3g4TDN/story.html [Accessed
Vox, n.d. Why the government should provide internet access.
[Online] Available at:
internet-public-option [Accessed June 2014].
Wilhelm, A., 2014. The FCCs Contentious Net Neutrality Rules Are
Voted Into A Comment Period. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 1 July 2014].

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