The subject of network neutrality on the web is a hotly debated issue with the potential to drastically alter the future of the internet. Net neutrality laws as currently written address three key issues: transparency; no blocking; and no unreasonable discrimination . Opponents argue for tiered services that distribute the cost of services according to usage. In either case, the effects on internet service providers would be significant. Here are 10 ways in which net neutrality laws affect your ISP:
- Neutrality laws would require transparency among ISP’s, to disclose their network management policies. In other words, your ISP needs to be up front about pricing, network performance, and how it provides access to services without discrimination.
- They would ban unreasonable blocking or discrimination by fixed-line providers, but show more leniency toward wireless networks. Wireless providers would only be prohibited from blocking applications that compete with their own, but would be free to block others.
- ISP’s would not be permitted to favor their own applications or services over those offered by their competitors. Consumers would be able to choose those apps and services they preferred, regardless of which ISP they used.
- There would be no tiered services. Sites owned by large corporations could not gain a competitive advantage over smaller competitors by paying for faster load speeds.
- An ISP could not pick and choose how to distribute its available bandwidth. As in the 2007 case of Comcast blocking P2P sites during peak times, an ISP would be prohibited from blocking specific sites for the sake of improving network performance.
- An internet service provider could still block illegal or harmful content (child pornography, spam, malware, etc) or slow down its entire network to preserve bandwidth under the proposed new laws.
- Pricing of ISP services could be significantly impacted. For instance, if an ISP was also a video content provider, it might be induced into offering deeply discounted packages in order to compete with third party competitors.
- As argued by net neutrality opponents, an inability to set up tiered services or to assess additional charges for access to third-party services would likely mean that your ISP would pass along their loss of revenue in the form of higher initial access fees. So you may not have to pay extra for access to Netflix once you’re logged onto the web, but your ISP may charge you a higher subscription rate before you can log on.
- Your ISP could potentially be in a position to alter the e-commerce landscape at large. That is, if neutrality laws don’t pass, and your ISP is able to charge more for tiered services, those who cannot afford to pay for faster access would no longer be able to compete with those who can.
- Ultimately, net neutrality will determine whether your ISP can itself compete on a level playing field where consumers can choose freely between its services and those of its competitors.
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Story by Coleen Torres