“Net neutrality means that information available via the Internet global network of computers should be shared regardless of what information is being sent and from whom without individual subscribers paying additional content- delivery fees.” (Cook, 2014). Net neutrality is based on the “Open Internet” concept where the price of usage, speed, and quality of the internet service should not vary as per the information required or the purpose of the use of the internet service. For example, a student trying to take his classes online or a user trying to check his utility bills online should have the same accessibility for the speed and the quality of the internet. In 2015, there was a rule passed by President Barack Obama implementing the net neutrality policy for preventing the Internet Service Providers to charge the customers differently based on the content they are trying to access. As per those regulations, the Federal Communications Commission had the control over the Broadband Service Providers under the Title II which stopped the BSPs from blocking the contents or websites, throttling the lawful content, and charging a premium to the customers for faster speeds (Yoo, 2017). But as per the New York Times, on June 11, 2018, the Net Neutrality was repealed.
The main three entities involved and which will be effected in this concept of net neutrality are Internet Service providers like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc., content providers like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Sling, etc., and the customers. The bandwidth capacity of an ISP is limited, so if there is an increase in the congestion in the network leading to slower speeds of the content delivery. In the absence of net neutrality, the ISPs will have the freedom to slow down some of the content and may charge premiums to the content providers for providing a “fast lane” for their content to be serviced to their customers. This may result in the content providers charging the customers more. The ISP’s will then try to offer bundled packages at lower costs to these users who are willing to take the extra services provided by the content providers. The opponents of the net neutrality argue that if net neutrality exists there will be no innovation in the ISP industry while those in favor say that the internet should be accessible to the public in an open way like it has been. As per Bourreau, Kourandi, and Valletti the removal of net neutrality could lead to reducing the congestion in the bandwidth of the ISPs due to differentiated lanes. This could help in the entry of those content providers who were not able to provide their content because of high congestion in the networks. Therefore, removal of net neutrality might increase the efficiency of traffic management, but there must be rules and regulations on the content which could be blocked by the ISPs, checking upon the fee they charge the content providers, and quality check on traffic.
The removal of net neutrality would affect different entities in a different manner. For big organizations, it might not be a big issue if they have to pay a little higher for their service. For small companies and startups, it might get very hard for them as for some organizations their sole marketing is based on social media marketing and online and for startups, it would add on to their costs (Bettridge, 2018). Many new or small apps will have to face competition with the bigger companies as they could tie up with the Internet Service Providers for getting more prioritization towards their apps. The repeal of net neutrality would affect the education industry as it would limit the students from accessing courses and study material online. Many students take online courses and choose distance education because of their financial state, their location, and other reasons, but the removal of net neutrality will affect these students and the online education industry (Yamagata-Lynch, Despande, Do, Garty, Mastrogiovanni ; Teagu, 2017). This could also affect the mobile plans based on the content the users will be more interested in. Therefore, the effects of net neutrality repeal can be positive as well as negative which depends on multiple factors like how much the FCC will intervene in ISPs practices, innovation in the telecommunications industry, the fee charged for “fast lanes” to the content providers by the ISPs, how much will consumers gain or lose out of it, how different business will be affected, and more.