Net every American has access to high speed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net Neutrality and how it impacts you

Zackary Zentz

Fort Hayes State University

[email protected]

12/12/2017

Undergraduate

Abstract

This paper is intended to
describe the effects of net neutrality on the public by explaining what net
neutrality entails and its significance. Under consideration also is the
current status of affairs on the issue of net neutrality and consideration of
how things would be without net neutrality rules. Finally, it indicates how
Trump’s presidency may change the net neutrality rules and concludes whether
net neutrality rules are a good policy with regards to public interest.

 

Net Neutrality and How It Impacts You

Introduction

The
concept of net neutrality refers to the equal treatment of all data over the
internet by the Internet Service Providers, ISPs. This means that Internet
service providers may not discriminate between various kinds of content and
applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and
Internet technologies. Net neutrality is concerned with access to content
rather than consumer speed and pricing (Huggins, Regan, & Lyons, 2017).

Adoption
of net neutrality rules in the United States began in 2009 by FCC chairman,
Genachowski. His move to adopt the rules faced feverish fight back from major
cable and telecom companies. According to Gonzalez & Torres, (2011), the
net neutrality rules as reported will jeopardize the goals supported by the
Obama administration that every American has access to high speed Internet
services no matter where they live or their financial circumstances, as was
said by AT & T’s senior vice president, Jim Cicconi.

Background
of the problem

Net
neutrality is a concept based on the principle of a “public medium”,
including communication systems. A typical supplier of goods and services is an
organization or business that provides its assortment to all comers without any
exceptions, this also applies to communication or data services. Net neutrality
assumes that any user should have equal access to the lines of communication,
if he can pay for the service, and receive / transfer the amount of data
without any restrictions.

Simply
put, all data transmitted via the Internet should be provided by Internet
service providers and government regulators to all users on the same terms,
regardless of the identity of the data creator or user, content, platform,
application, type or method of communication. This means that all users must
have equal access to the network and, at the very least, pay the same price for
an unhindered connection, regardless of the purpose with which the user is
using the network.

While
the idea existed before, it become well known in 2008. This happened when
Comcast was accused of using packet generation to intentionally limit the
traffic flow for BitTorrent protocol users. BitTorrent, is a very popular file
sharing service that allows you to transfer all forms of digital content,
including music and video, which requires high bandwidth. The results of the
investigation of the complaint were mixed, Comcast was prosecuted, but found
not guilty, the problem gave rise to a discussion that continues today.

The
rules of network neutrality stipulate that Internet service providers, such as
Comcast and Verizon, act as “public providers”, which allows FCC to
dictate rules to ISPs. In particular, the agency prohibited blocking, slowing
down or prioritizing certain traffic in its network in order to obtain
financial benefits. For example, AT & T cannot slow down the YouTube TV service
and thus promote its own DirecTV Now project.

Current
status of net neutrality rules

There
have been a lot of issues surrounding the problem of net neutrality.
Documenting from the FCC’s perspective, and from the proponents and opponents’
views on the matter and the level of success that FCC has seen to date in
enforcing net neutrality rules, we can clearly see the current status of
affairs as far as net neutrality is concerned.

Net
neutrality is perhaps the most hotly debated media policy issue in recent years
(Stiegler, 2012).  The new rules on net
neutrality were issued by the Federal Communication Commission, FCC, on
February 26, 2015, after months of debate on this issue. The new rules prohibit
broadband providers from blocking, throttling (degrading service users), or
allowing paid prioritization from other vendors.

Even
though lawsuits have already been filed against the FCC over the new rules, but
for now, the new rules are the law of the land in the United States. ISPs have
long had different tiers of service available to consumers. Those with more
money can afford a faster connection.

However,
the faster speeds do not give preferential treatment to content providers. As
of 2015, the FCC did not regulate consumer Internet pricing tiers and had no
plans to do so (Huggins, Regan, & Lyons, 2017). However there have
currently been a lot of court proceedings to stop FCC from regulating the net.
This causes much debate about if net neutrality rules should be abolished. The
loss of net neutrality would end this unparalleled opportunity of freedom of
expression.

Currently,
all websites are delivered on an equal basis; if you go to Amazon.com, your
webpage is delivered just as fast as if you go to the white House’s website
(whitehouse.gov) or the New York Times (nytimes.com) or a social networking
site like Facebook or MySpace. This shows that indeed net neutrality has taken
effect (Belmas, & Overbeck, (2014).

Net
neutrality players

 These are the various bodies and companies
that have contributed towards the shaping of net neutrality through debating on
this matter. In this case, there are some groups that are in support of net
neutrality rules whereas the other groups are opposed to the issue of net
neutrality.

According
to Huggins, Regan, & Lyons, the proponents of net neutrality include both
Internet startup companies and large Internet content providers, which include
Netflix, Apple. eBay, Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, Google and Amazon.com. Other
groups in favor of net neutrality include advocacy and human rights
organizations such as Free Press, Common Cause, Public Knowledge and Fight for
the Future. President Barack Obama and many Democratic members of Congress are
also in favor if the issue.

Those
against net neutrality regulation include large ISPs such as Comcast, Time
Warner Cable, Cox, AT & T and Verizon. Also opposed to net neutrality are
industry advocacy groups such as the US Telecom Association and the National
Cable & Telecommunications Association, and think tanks, such as the Free
State Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Many
Republicans are also against the idea of adding extra rules and regulations for
businesses, as are some large tech companies, including Intel, IBM, Qualcomm
and Cisco.

 

 

Net
neutrality debate

Net
neutrality has been one of the hotly debated media issues. Due to different
opinions on the matter from diverse groups of peoples and companies, there have
been numerous debates in attempt to show the validity or invalidity of this issue.

Stiegler,
(2012), notes that debates over net neutrality raise the evasive matter of who
controls the internet and to what ends. As net neutrality garnered greater
public awareness, two clearly defined, vocal and opposing camps emerged. A
number of public interest groups rallied to advocate for codifying network
neutrality in the interest of preserving unrestricted web access for American
consumers. On the other hand, telecommunications firms such as AT and
Comcast worked to prevent legislation by FCC policy protecting net neutrality, expressing
concern of government intrusion into private enterprise.

Reasons
for net neutrality rules

For
any policy formed, before it is put into enforcement, it is important to
consider the factors behind the formation of the specific policy. Similarly, it
is important to consider the factors that the policy makers considered before
coming up with net neutrality rules. This entails considering the beneficiaries
of the policy, the effect of the policy and what prompted the policy makers to
come up with the policy. Similarly, there are several reasons that were
considered before setting the net neutrality rules.

Avoiding
net neutrality regulation for wireless internet for AT & T means protecting
one of its most important business segments from regulation that might fetter
profit accumulation (Edina, Stiglitz & De (2012). Without net neutrality
rules AT & T could for example raise its income through charging providers
of mobile Internet content for fast delivery of their content.

Society
is the main beneficiary of net neutrality. According to AT & T, one of
their arguments against net neutrality is that these rules would allow large
corporations to use their network for free. But this is not true since this
argument neglects the fact that Internet access is not free today. Consumers
are paying for accessing the content and services that they want to use.
Consumers’ interest is never on the value of connection but majorly on the
content delivered by the connection.

As
net neutrality protects companies such as Amazon, eBay or Google from paying
additional fees, it is not surprising that they advocate for net neutrality
rules. But this does not mean that these companies are the main beneficiaries of
net neutrality. These companies are highly profitable and they could afford to
pay fees for prioritizing their services. Individual bloggers, NGOs, civil
society organizations, alternative media, protest groups, social movements etc
on the contrary often have only limited financial resources and could therefore
not afford prioritization.

This
means that in the absence of net neutrality rules, financially powerful actors
in the society could distribute their services much faster than others. In such
a situation, power would further shift away from the public to financially
powerful corporations. Thus, the main beneficiaries of net neutrality rules is
the society, including individuals, NGOs, protest groups, alternative media and
others, that it protects from a further expansion of power and control (Edina,
Stiglitz & De (2012).

Some
content providers that would otherwise pay ISPs for enhanced services might
benefit from net neutrality rules. But the absence of net neutrality regulation
will not necessarily reduce investment by content providers, and it might even
increase their investment.

They
further argue that this problem is made worse when large companies purchase or
merge with competitors. They believe that without competition, these companies
wield too much power and control, and the results are excessive cost, poor
service and lack of choice. They therefore contend that because of these
factors, the FCC must regulate ISPs to maintain an open Internet.

An
internet based upon neutrality prevents the telecommunications industry from
segregating the flow of information, instead facilitating continued freedom of
access, expression and innovation online

Arguments
against net neutrality rules

As
is the case with any policy, there will be arguments for and against the
policy. Not everybody will support the policy and other people may even feel that
the policy or rules target them. However, if the rules are for the interest of
the majority, they will be enacted. Arguments against net neutrality rules help
shape the issue and make probable changes to ensure that the policy is more
effective.

Edina,
Stiglitz & De (2012), further argues that, net neutrality rules works as a
seesaw principle in action. Net neutrality has a different degree of importance
for the ordinary user and for business. Undoubtedly, the ways of using the
Internet are the same, but the scale of its use far exceeds the scope of
receiving e-mail and paying bank accounts. Enterprises based on the Internet
receive their income from stable Internet traffic. Low download speed and
Internet restrictions deprive them of the expected profit, because web users
will better go to a different page than they will wait for the download. The
website of Kissmetrics web-passports says that almost 50% of all Internet users
expect that the necessary pages will load in 2 seconds or less, and only 1
second of delay during download increases the failure rate by 7% or more, so
any Internet business is interested in,

On
the other side of the net neutrality argument are individuals who oppose
government regulations, as well as a group of cable and telecom companies.
These companies have spent years and billions of dollars building high-speed
internet networks and contend there is nothing wrong with creating Internet fast
lanes. They say the internet will remain open under such a structure and
consumers will not be blocked from accessing any content. 

These
opponents further contend that government regulations deter investment in
improving the internet. Moreover, they say that regulations could also harm
innovation by preventing the development of services that take advantage of
Internet fast lanes. Considering the case of AT & T, we can get a picture
of the opponents’ arguments against net neutrality. Are they considering the
issue in relation to the public or just themselves?

AT
& T’s arguments against net neutrality regulation

On
several occasions, AT& T has publicly highlighted that it rejects the idea
of net neutrality. The company was at the fore front of the lobbying process
against net neutrality. For instance, the company was a member of the Hands off
the Internet campaign, a coalition of net neutrality opponents. The company,
through its senior management, argued that FCC’s policy on net neutrality was
influenced by the ideas of AT & T’s opponents, which were in many cases
truly bad and radical ideas.

 

Policy
makers ‘contribution towards net neutrality.

According
to Belmas, & Overbeck, (2014), FCC supports net neutrality and acted as
though it had the authority to mandate it. Members of Congress and the FCC have
tried to strike a balance between protecting consumer and business access while
being fair to ISPs. During the past years net neutrality was subjected to a
contested policy formation process in the United States. After having defined
the principles of net neutrality in 2005, the FCC in 2009 attempted to enact
stronger net neutrality regulation, including the possibility of stricter
enforcement (FCC 2009). However, due to strong corporate pressure the proposed
rules were substantially weakened (FCC 2010) until they came into effect on
November 20, 2011.

The
reality about net neutrality

Trying
to unveil the real reasons behind the policy or rules is important for everyone
to properly understand the rules before making decisions to oppose or support
them. Some people may be merely attracted to support the policy due to what it
purports to do. But it is important to dig deep into the roots of the policy
and consider beyond the advantages.

One
of the reasons why an Internet service provider wants to limit the flow of
traffic is purely technical and consists in the desire to prevent system
failures (Xiao, 2008). The flow of data through the ISP is not the same, it
varies during the day and on different days of the week or even months. In the
mornings, when people wake up, traffic grows, then, with the beginning of the
working day, increases many times, in the evening, when people return home,
decreases. In some periods of the day traffic is low, and the connection speed
is high, while in others, on the contrary, there is a higher level of traffic
and a lower connection speed. If traffic becomes too heavy, it can slow down
the service of the entire stream of the Internet provider (and create a long
buffer time for streaming media), or it can lead to network malfunction and
interruption of service for millions of users.

However,
for much of the internet’s history, content providers, end users and the
service providers have operated under an assumption that all traffic should be
treated equally in terms of speed and access, and this is the principle of net
neutrality. But due to recent revelations of ISPs slowing or speeding uploads
or downloads to and from certain sites and services, depending on partnerships
or other economic relationships, of course, has understandably caused a good
amount of public concern, thus the need for net neutrality (Belmas, &
Overbeck, (2014).

FCC
has sought to fine ISPs for these practices, citing the value of net
neutrality. President Obama called for broadband services to be regulated in
much the same way that we regulate utilities like gas and electricity
companies. Opponents argue that this sort of regulation would set a dangerous
precedent of government oversight of internet and its content.

Trump’s
presidency and net neutrality

It
is clear that the issue of net neutrality was introduced under the leadership
of the former president of the United States, Barack Obama. Each person has his
own unique and different way of carrying out his or her duties as far as
regulation is concerned, for those in power. And it is unexpected that
President Trump will support all the rules and regulations that were put in
place by his predecessor.

An
interesting factor to note is that an important battle in the world of
broadband access is now being fought in the context of pole attachments and
other traditional elements of the local telephone exchange network. This
conflict illustrates the significance of traditional communications network
facilities. Access to those facilities continues to be vital even in the new
broadband environment. Will president Trump approve of the net neutrality
issue?

According
to Delta, (2016), some observers believe that the Trump administration is
likely either to attempt to eliminate the net neutrality requirement adopted by
the FCC or to avoid enforcing its terms. This is because the Trump’s
administration does not appear to embrace the fundamental principles associated
with net neutrality and is thus likely to apply those principles in the
broadband marketplace.

Moreover,
the distinctions between access and content providers are blurring as companies
span multiple service and product sectors through innovative use of new
information and communications technologies. Another important factor
complicating the effort to expand broadband access is the debate over the
appropriate role of local governments in providing such access. A growing
number of local communities are developing their own public broadband networks,
thus putting the continuity of net neutrality rules under Trump’s presidency at
stake.

As
indicated by Foster, (2017), Trump administration came into office with what
can only be called a neo- fascist political project. Trump’s domestic agenda
reflected the class alliances and ‘sub intellectual’ ideology that brought him
to power. Considering some of the changes that his administration has proposed
to work on, there is no doubt that the net neutrality rules will be scrapped
off under this administration.

Conclusion

Despite
the several arguments and debated against net neutrality majorly spear headed
by such companies as T & T and Comcast, the issue of net neutrality as
documented by FCC is aimed at creating a fair and equal ground as far as
internet networks are concerned.  Therefore, the net neutrality rules are a good
policy as far as public interest is concerned. This is because the regulation
serves to the public interest and to protect internet discrimination of the
public users by the content providers. This regulation also serves to balance
internet controls from the powerful providers and the less weak end users.
Moreover, the society is the main beneficiary of net neutrality and definitely,
the society will be the one to suffer most in the hands of content providers in
the case that net neutrality rules are scrapped off, as is proposed under the
presidency of Trump.

 

References

Belmas,
G. I., & Overbeck, W. (2014).Major principles of media law. Stamford, CT:
Cengage Learning.

 

Delta,
G. E. O. R .G. E. B. (2016). Law of the Internet. S.I.: Wolters Kluwer Law
& Bus.

 

Edina,
A.S., Stiglitz, J.E., & De, L.J.B. (2012). The economists’ voice 2.0: The
financial crisis, health care reform, and more. New York: Columbia University
Press

 

Foster,
J.B. (2017). Trump in the White House: Tragedy and farce

 

Gonzalez,
J., & Torres, J. (2011). News for all the people: The epic story of race
and the American media. London: Verso.

 

Huggins,
M., Regan, M., & Lyons, D. (2017). Net neutrality.

 

Stiegler,
Z. (2012). Regulating the web: Network neutrality and the fate of the open
internet. Lexington Books.

 

Xiao,
X. P. (2008). Technical, commercial and regulatory challenges of QoS: An
internet service model perspective. Amsterdam: Elsevier/ Morgan Kaufmann.

 

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