Venture Explains: Net Neutrality

What is it?

The belief that all web traffic should be treated equally. In practice this largely means broadband providers aren’t allowed to create ‘fast’ Internet lanes, and charge websites extra for accessing the boosted bandwidth speed.

Who’s for it?

Internet freedom activists and tech giants like Google and Amazon are united in their support of Net Neutrality around the world. They say big, wealthy companies like Netflix can easily afford to pay a premium to use a ‘fast’ Internet lane to deliver their content to customers. But younger, less established competitors can’t, and would be forced to crawl along in the ‘slow’ lane. A multi-speed Internet would therefore stifle competition and innovation, and threaten the level playing field of the open web.

Who’s against it?

Even though they insist they believe in the fundamental principles of Net Neutrality, Internet providers say current laws surrounding the concept are outdated, and are unnecessarily preventing them from raising desperately needed extra revenue to maintain networks, and develop new products and services over the long-term.

Why we should care now?

US broadband providers successfully lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to vote on whether to maintain Net Neutrality in its current form. The powerful watchdog just ruled the Internet is, just like a telephone service, a public utility that should have no ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ lanes.

What happens next?

US broadband providers are likely to undertake lengthy legal action to overturn the FCC’s ruling. As for Jordan, the basic tenants of Net Neutrality still appear to be enshrined in TRC regulations. But the emerging battle over the future of Net Neutrality is largely about the cost and ease of delivering TV shows and movies over the Internet. So expect questions about Net Neutrality to start being raised here as demand for video streaming increases.