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Net Neutrality

A large part of American history has developed around the idea of personal freedoms.

From the very beginning, America has fought towards independencethe belief that every

person deserves to choose what they support based on his or her personal preferences. Even

today, albeit on a much smaller scale, the fight goes on. From 2015 to present day, the issue of

net neutrality is extremely relevant to nearly every citizen, despite the fact that most dont even

realize what those words mean. Net neutrality is the idea that almost every website on the

internet is treated equally and covered in the same payments sent to the ISP, or internet service

provider. Without the current parameters requiring net neutrality, ISPs would be able to lock

certain internet services behind a separate paywall, or throttle loading and downloading speeds

on competing websites.

Recently, Net Neutrality has been receiving a lot of attention throughout the internet. The

recent rise of awareness is most likely due to the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC)

plans on voting for or against it this upcoming December of 2017. This has led to a lot of

publicity within the issue, and an inevitably large group of people asking: what is Net Neutrality?

An excellent explanation of this concept can be found within former President Barack Obamas

statement on Net Neutrality from 2014, a time when the nation faced a similar fight to maintain

the free and open internet. Obama cites Net Neutrality as essential to the American economy,

and one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known. The

former president supports these claims by explaining that Net Neutrality can lower the cost of

launching a new idea, ignite new political movements, and bring communities closer together

(Net Neutrality: A Free and Open Internet). However, it can still be difficult to pinpoint exactly

how Net Neutrality effects internet services, and what this idea of a free market involves. As
stated later in the 2014 White House statement, Net Neutrality maintains four basic ideals that

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must follow: No blocking, No throttling, Increased

Transparency, and No paid prioritization (Net Neutrality: A Free and Open Internet). The

disallowance of blocking simply means that ISPs cannot block consumers from requesting access

to a website with legal content. As a result, every website, regardless of their affiliation with the

ISP, will receive an equal chance at the business of consumers. In regards to throttling, ISPs are

not able to slow down or speed up content based on the preference of the providers. Without this

parameter, ISPs could possibly slow down competitors websites to nearly unusable levels and

funnel all of their support into affiliated websites. Increased transparency is an issue that isnt

often brought up when discussing Net Neutrality, but remains just as important as the three main

ideas that it upholds. Increased transparency simply means that ISPs should be open about how

they provide internet access and everything that goes on within that process. If it werent for this

statute, ISPs would be able to go about changing users access to the internet without being open

about their changes, leaving the consumer at the will of the ISP. Finally, the restrictions against

paid prioritization is probably the most publicly well-known pillar of Net Neutrality, and one that

can be heard quite often throughout discussion of the topic. Paid prioritization would allow ISPs

to favor some internet traffic in exchange for consideration, often depicted as certain website

packages being locked behind an extra paywall (The Open Internet). This idea is especially

important to consumers, as it allows them to access almost all websites on the internet without

needing to pay an extra fee to their ISP for proper access. All four of these ideals mesh together

to create the basic concept of Net Neutrality, and show just how drastic of an effect it would

have on consumers should the FCC allow Net Neutrality to be struck down.
To consumers and everyday citizens, it can be hard to understand why Net Neutrality is

even an issue in the first place. This free market model of an internet seems so obviously

beneficial that arguments against it may seem invalid in the eyes of Net Neutralitys activists.

However, when tackling such a divisive issue, it is important to maintain an open mind and see

all sides of an argument. To some, Net Neutrality is unnecessary government overreach that

straightjackets the Internet (Net Neutrality 101). One opposing idea that can be heard stems

from distrust of the governments ability to maintain a truly neutral internet. A valid argument,

supporters of this statement express concern that the government would not be able to regulate

this ideal of a free market internet. However, Net Neutrality has faced its fair share of opposition

before. In 2005, during the same year the FCC adopted some its first policies for Net Neutrality,

it faced its first violation. The ISP Madison River Communication reportedly locked ports for

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) on Madisons network. The FCC and Madison River

quickly agreed on a $15,000 fine to Madison River and an agreement not to further prevent

customers from using VoIP applications (Ohlhausen). Unfortunately, since this case, the FCC

has had a spotty history of cases in upholding Net Neutrality. In 2008, popular ISP Comcast was

reported to have interfered with its subscribers peer-to-peer networking applications

(Ohlhausen). The FCC did take action, but failed under its inability to identify authority for its

order. In 2010, the FCC tried to revise its provisions and allow itself the ability to take action to

develop broadband infrastructure (Ohlhausen). It took until 2014 for these revisions to finally

pass. When reviewing past cases, the aforementioned argument seems valid. However, it is

important to note that rules and regulations can change over time. The actions of the past do not

always dictate the actions of the future. Perhaps, under new provisions after this years vote, Net

Neutrality can have more authority in fighting against its violations. Another issue with the idea
of Net Neutrality is the economic toll of the free market maintenance. By allowing equal access

to every website, ISPs face an annual tripling of traffic demand, meaning that more and more

money from the ISP must be used to maintain an equality in internet speeds. Because of this

increasing need to funnel more profit into quality of service, ISPs become more and more

tempted to put the most money behind the highest bidder (Firmin). However, as mentioned

before, paid prioritization by ISPs is can cause many problems in the infrastructure of blooming

businesses throughout the internet. If ISPs were allowed to sell quality service to those who

could pay, it would create a barrier for newcomers in the Internet market (Firmin). In a

dramatic sense, it undermines the very ideas held in the stereotypical American dream. Finally,

some sources have attempted to offer alternative methods of market regulation across the

internet, in an attempt to mediate between the two polarizing sides. One example of such is the

Three-Party Approach to Fast-Lanes, pioneered by Hassan Habibi Gharakheili, among others.

The alternative approach includes ways for ISPs, Content Service Providers (CSPs), and

consumers to have an equal say in how the internet is regulated. The idea is for ISPs and CSPs to

propose certain fast-lanes for different websites, and allow the consumers to decide whether or

not they are implemented (Gharakheili). There are multiple unfortunate truths concerning this

proposal, and others like it: first, just as the third parties effect elections, these alternative

outcomes are often left in the shadow of the two polarizing outcomes. Most consumers are not

open to third party solutions, or do not search them out, and therefore are never informed of

these alternatives. More specifically, in this model, a relevant concern would be the ISPs

motivation to listen to consumer input in the first place. If anything, the Net Neutrality debate

shows that ISPs arent too concerned with the opinion of their patrons in the first place. The

benefits of receiving money from the CSPs directly would outweigh the gradual and unsure
method of profiting from this model. Furthermore, this answer relies on a majority mentality.

Although majority rulings are often favored, when the alternative of complete Net Neutrality

regulation allows for every consumer to be equally satisfied, a majority rules disadvantages

outweigh the benefits.

Net Neutrality has been addressed as an important issue throughout multiple discussions

and sources. However, it can be difficult to see the results of Net Neutrality, and how it effects

consumers on a personal level. One issue that would affect many consumers individually is the

scenarios of paid prioritization. If Net Neutrality is wholly eliminated, paid prioritization would

further the digital divide in America, meaning that lower-income families would have an even

harder time of meeting the technological standards of todays society (Net Neutrality 101). This

divide across the economic stages of American society cause the lower-income, or poor, families

to fall further into debt and lower their chances of being able to recover and receive and equal

opportunity in the workforce. Furthermore, removing the regulations of Net Neutrality could

have adverse effects on more than just the average consumer. Chad Sansing argues that the

absence of Net Neutrality could lead to increased costs, limited reaching and learning

outcomes, and more in schools across the nations. Without Net Neutrality, schools would have

to invest even more into accessing databases and information services that are necessary for

teaching, in a field that already seems underfunded (Sansing). Sansing even states that this issue

could lead to even more corporate control over schooling in America. Of course, the whole issue

of Net Neutrality has received huge amounts of support throughout the various discussions and

decisions made. In 2014, when the FCC revised and proposed new Net Neutrality regulations,

the FCC opened their doors to public comments ono the issue. The FCC reportedly received a
record-breaking 4 million comments in favor of the free market regulations (Feld). This issue

has become a polarizing viewpoint in America.

In conclusion, Net Neutrality is an extremely volatile issue across America currently.

Although there are some hiccups in the implementation, and alternative methods are present, it

seems that the most favored outcome would be the maintenance of a free and open internet. The

arguments for and against Net Neutrality boil down to one of Americas most basic principles:

the voice of the people. At the moment, it seems that a vast majority of consumers are fighting

for a free market on the internet. However, there is still one more question yet to be answered:

will the FCC listen?


Works Cited

Feld, Harold, Gene Kimmelman, Phillip Berenbroick, Yosef Getachew, and et al. Net Neutrality,

Public Knowledge, 2017, https://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/net-neutrality.

Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

Firmin, Maloba M. "Net Neutrality and Scenarios of Internet Pricing." , International Journal of

Computer Science Issues, Jan. 2017. ProQuest,

https://libcatalog.atu.edu:2409/docview/1874616223/fulltextPDF/705698B9862F4C7DP

Q/1?accountid=8364. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

Gharakheili, Hassan H., Arun Vishwanath, and Vijay Sivaraman. "Perspectives on Net

Neutrality and Internet Fast-Lanes." . , University of new South Wales, Jan. 2016. ACM

Digital Library, libcatalog.atu.edu:2214/10.1145/2880000/2875962/p64-

gharakheili.pdf?ip=69.65.176.125&id=2875962&acc=ACTIVE%20SERVICE&key=F82

E6B88364EF649%2E478DD7F8CC6FBBD5%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E4D4702B0

C3E38B3. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

Maureen, Ohlhausen K. "Antitrust Over Net Neutrality: Why We Should Take Competition In

Broadband Seriously." . , Federal Trade Commission, 24 Jan. 2017,

https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/1054963/ohlhausen_cotec

hjournal.pdf. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

Net Neutrality 101, Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2017, https://cei.org/content/net-neutrality-

101. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

Net Neutrality: A Free and Open Internet, The White House, 14 June 2016,

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/node/323681. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.


Sansing, Chad. "On Net Neutrality. , Knowledge Quest, Oct. 2014. ProQuest,

https://libcatalog.atu.edu:2409/docview/1561141169/fulltextPDF/810B5A220A7544A6P

Q/1?accountid=8364. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.

The Open Internet, Federal Communications Commission, 21 Nov. 2017,

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/open-internet. Accessed 26 Nov. 2017.