Changes discussed regarding net neutrality

Net neutrality, or the concept we receive the same Internet speed as everyone else, could soon be changing for Internet users.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed rules in May that would allow Internet service providers to decide at what speed users receive service.

The term ‘net neutrality’ signifies Internet service providers should treat all data on the Internet equally, meaning the providers cannot send content from different websites or through different platforms at different rates of speed, thus having a concept of “open Internet.”

“In a world without net neutrality, (internet service providers) can choose how fast your services come to you on certain sites,” said Chair of the Department of Communications Gregory Pitts. “If net neutrality is upheld, ISPs could decide to up the cost of delivering faster bandwidth and raise the monthly fee they charge for net access.”

Because carrying Internet traffic is getting more expensive for providers, they are looking to force users to absorb the costs, Pitts said.

Junior Jordan Ellis said, “If we are paying for a certain Internet service, we shouldn’t be cheated out of getting the highest possible quality.”

The FCC began considering two options regarding net neutrality: Permit varying broadband lane speed, which would compromise net neutrality, or consider broadband a telecommunication service to preserve net neutrality.

Internet service providers, such as Comcast, argue the Internet today is a very different from the early days when the net neutrality principle was protected, Pitts said.

They say because users are streaming video content from sites like Hulu, YouTube and Netflix, they should be allowed to charge the sites and users more to provide the content, he said.

Students who subscribe to these on-demand services could see not only their bills from service providers increase, but also the cost of subscription.

Pitts said cellphone companies, such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, have currently been exempt from net neutrality. However, the FCC has stepped forward to correct this issue.

“The question before the FCC is cell phone companies are providing data and they’re not covered by net neutrality, so should we bring them into the fold as well?” he said.

Pitts said students will want to know they are getting what they pay for concerning their Internet service.

“Assuming it goes through, and we establish network neutrality, it would benefit UNA students because when they access something online from their smart phones and other devices, it won’t be throttled down by companies trying to make a profit,” Pitts said.

Without net neutrality, users may get a bill reflecting their usage, and those who video-on-demand services would be charged more, Pitts said.

Senior Jessica Rikard said she was unaware of the control ISP monopolies had on her Internet service.

“I like the proposition of net neutrality because I believe everyone should have access to the Internet without having to pay an arm and a leg for services,” she said. “I believe this could benefit us.”

Rikard also said bringing awareness to the concept of net neutrality will hopefully allow students to realize this could benefit them, too.