What Is Net Neutrality?- NewBase



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What Is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is a principle that states that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and that ISPs cannot block, slow down or apply extra charges for specific websites and content.

In February 2015, after months of political disputes, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States has established the reclassification of Internet Service Providers as "common carriers". A common carrier must provide service to the general public without discrimination in order to guarantee "public convenience and necessity." The internet became a public service and the regulation established that access to all websites, platforms and information should be equal.

Net Neutrality has made it possible for smaller companies and start-ups to compete on the free market. Many of the platforms we use today for ecommerce and social media have had the opportunity to thrive because of this order.

The FCC will vote on Thursday December 14th to repeal this regulation, thus ending the restrictions on internet providers that required them to treat all web traffic equally.

There are many implications to the repeal and of course, there are advocates of Net Neutrality and those lobbying for its repeal.

The implications of this are many and of course opinions are divided.

On one side, the big telecommunications companies maintain that by entering a deregulated and less restricted system they will be able to make their businesses more profitable, and invest to expand their network infrastructure to reach more of the population. As of today, most areas in the United States are only reached by 1 or 2 service providers giving the consumer very little choice and de facto creating local monopolies.

On the other hand, there are many implications for the information and advertising industries.

Without Net Neutrality ISPs will be able to regulate access to specific sites, as long as they notify the user. They can block or slow down access to specific media outlets or apply premium pricing options to access content, for example social media, video streaming and ecommerce platforms.

Our industry operates on the possibility to reach audiences with the same speed and ease all across the internet, but this might change.

It is especially likely that sites that distribute video content will be hit particularly hard by the change in regulation, being the nature of their product dependent on bandwidth and connection speed. This would of course also affect video advertising.

As far as content is concerned, ISPs will be also able to put premiums on specific content and websites, making it more and more difficult for independent media outlets to bear the costs of the service, possibly undermining their existence. This would likely also bring an increase in cost of advertising, creating a domino effect on the industry.

The 2015 FCC order established that ISPs could not operate as gatekeepers, or influence the way content is consumed online by favouring one outlet or the other, if it gets repealed they could make the platforms of those that can afford premiums more easily available than that of their competition.

With Net Neutrality, as users, we have the freedom to choose what we see first, how we consume media and entertainment online and this has guaranteed that websites can grow based on merit as their audiences grow, not based on their financial status.

As we wait for the final vote tomorrow the industry braces for the consequences. However the scenario might change, we trust that the media and advertising industry will evolve and adapt to make the best of the situation.

Giorgia Fantini - Copyright 2017 NewBase