With America gearing up for a big vote on Net Neutrality I thought I’d do a repost, to emphasise how important it is and what it could mean for the UK.
I’ve done a previous post covering this issue, but in a nutshell Net Neutrality promotes a free and open internet where all data, content and applications are treated equally, without discrimination. Essentially everything carrying on like it currently is.
This image explains all you need to know about why Net Neutrality is important, because this is what it could turn out like.
An ISP could prioritise traffic however they wish and charge you for the luxury of using different applications. Whereas now you’d pay a flat fee for internet access, ISPs could impose, as the image suggests, multiple packages for different websites. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is negative for everyone. It’s anti-competition, anti-freedom, anti-everything. There’s no benefit, except to those right at the top.
But this is in the US, so why should I care in the UK?
For now, we’re protected by EU Law, which ensures an open and competitive internet market. However, with Brexit looming and all the other issues surrounding it, you might worry that this particular law isn’t translated correctly on the repeal bill.
To be fair, in the UK, we have a much more competitive broadband market, and it allows users to switch with ease. However, a lot of these providers also tend to offer a broadband and online tv deals — think Sky and BT, for example. These companies have incentive to prioritise their content over Netflix, Prime or any other streaming service.
Virgin already offer data-free messaging, to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter. Whilst this sounds amazing, it’s bad for everyone in the long term. It’s anti-competition and makes it very difficult for new startups, in a similar sector, break into the market and gain a user base. Why would a user want to try out a cool new product, if the alternative is free to use. It creates an unfair playing field, which leads to a stagnant market and less innovation.
Whilst things are better here in the UK than the US, the fact remains it’s an issue to keep in mind, especially with Brexit on the horizon. If the vote passes and the bill is repealed in the US it might pressure other countries to revisit their own Open Internet laws.
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