People could start paying more for faster Internet service after the Federal Communications Commission lost the battle to American broadband company Verizon, leaving net neutrality defenseless in the face of such enterprises. The demise of this set of rules might mean that Americans will have to pay extra in order to continue enjoying their favorite websites.
Net neutrality stands for a concept designed by the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) which states that the Internet should be not only free, but also open to all services and applications on the Internet. The federal appeal court’s refusal to impose the equality between Internet service providers could affect consumers and increase the cost of Internet. Until now, broadband companies could not block or discriminate against any content, thus allowing legal websites or other pieces of online content to maintain their free-of-charge status.
“It leaves consumers at the mercy of a handful of cable and phone providers that can give preferential treatment to the content they profit from”, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union Delara Derakhshani said.
Regardless of the battle between broadband companies and the F.C.C., the effect of net neutrality’s death indirectly affects consumers; if companies like Verizon start charging legal websites more money for faster speed, clients’ fees will also increase.
Internet services could start imposing fees
After the court decided in Verizon’s favor, questions regarding clients’ ability to access the Internet post-net neutrality are answered by Verizon executives.
“The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the internet”, Verizon representative said.
The concern regarding how much consumers will have to pay for faster Internet service has been tackled by the CEO of BitTorrent, Eric Klinker. The system he created allows people to share large files for free, but Klinker doubts the situation will remain the same.
“For everyone else, permission to play- the ability to even compete- will come at a cost”, Klinker said.
According to numerous sources, the fear that Internet service providers could impose fees which only richer companies could pay for hover over the death of net neutrality. In the scenario painted by BitTorrent’s CEO, websites will have to pay if they want to keep up with the fast content delivery, which might mean that people will also have to pay for accessing certain websites.
Net neutrality lost the battle against Internet service providers because under federal law, the Internet is not considered a utility. Therefore, although federal regulators tried to avoid the concept’s demise, from now the cost of Internet could increase. The F.C.C. could appeal the decision or rewrite the rules in order to provide free access for all Internet consumers, but for now F.C.C. chairman Tom Wheeler has not taken any decision. The former lobbyist for cable and wireless phones companies chose to support an open Internet, but at the same time he does not want to prevent companies from experimenting with methods of delivering Internet service.
Although the death of net neutrality which occurred this week has been consequence-free for customers so far, many concerned voices utter that websites are not the only ones to pay higher fees for faster speed; the cost of Internet might also affect Americans who until now enjoyed the websites they liked for free.
By Gabriela Motroc