Today the conservative members of the Federal Communications Commission voted to end Net Neutrality — the idea that all data on the website should be treated equally, no matter where it comes from. The move by the FCC, led by Ajit Pai opens up the opportunity for "internet fast-lanes" to be created. ISP will be able to, if they want, hold a company or website hostage until it pays up just for users to be able to access their service.
Under Obama, the internet was reclassified as a utility, which would allow the government to regulate it in the same way as electricity. Verizon and Comcast argued that it would lead to less incentive to improve networks, which would lead to worse service instead of better.
For the more news-savvy people here, that might sound familiar and that's because it is. In January 2014, it was pointed out that Netflix streaming speeds on Comcast's network had decreased from above 2.1 mbps in September of the previous year to around 1.5 in January. Due to service degradation and user complains, eventually Netflix was forced to pay Comcast, resulting immediately in a 67 percent improvement of speeds.
The biggest concern people have currently is the creation of these so called fast lanes, which would be home to companies like Google and Netflix that can shell out enough money to afford the faster speeds. Everything else would be in the slower lane, limiting startups and people trying to start businesses from breaking into the market.
Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T already offer deals that break the rules and principles of net neutrality. For instance customers of Verizon can access its Go90 streaming service for free and without a data limit, as can AT&T customers with its DirectTV Now service, writes WIRED.
In the future customers will see more packages like this, where instead of paying $50 per month for five gigabytes of data, you pay $15 each month for unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Some people (such as teenagers who are heavy data addicts) might like this better than the current setup, if it includes what services they use. But for everybody else, we could end up having to pay much more just to access they same services we use today.
The repeal of these rules could hurt people who already have little to no access to internet at home, writes The Verge. Millions of people around the United States cannot currently afford home internet because of the price, and creating an opportunity for companies to charge more for the same service isn't doing anything to help these people. Many people rely on libraries to access their email, search for jobs and do their homework. Though this is an extreme, repealing the regulations could result in higher costs for libraries and public institutions, which would ultimately end with only some of the internet being available to library patrons.
It's unlikely that much can be done to repeal the decision now that it's been voted on, but states across the country are suing the FCC in hopes of reversing the decision. The effort is being led by New York Attorney Eric Schneiderman and includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.