As expected, the FCC just passed “net neutrality” regulations, which prevent your broadband ISP from blocking web sites, but gives wireless companies some more leniency.You’ll find mixed reactions from everyone, including people freaking out, people being disappointed in Barack Obama, people celebrating, and people who are confused and don’t really know what’s going on.
Here’s the thing, for those who are freaking out. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. Nothing is going to change in a big way.
Your Internet access isn’t going to get really slow all of a sudden. Your ISP isn’t going to start blocking half the web. Your iPhone isn’t going to stop loading sites just because AT&T doesn’t like them. (Although Apple won’t let you use the WikiLeaks app, and net neutrality can’t do a thing to change that.)
While the only thing that people trust less than the phone company is the government, the reality is that Internet and mobile phone service providers have a real interest in keeping their customers around. Sure, competition isn’t as strong as some may like, but the reality is that nothing drastic is going to happen. (Especially on Verizon’s 4G network, which is bound to open access by the FCC’s 2008 spectrum rules. Thanks, Google!)
And Internet bandwidth may become more expensive for some corporations, as ISPs offer paid express lanes to those who can afford it. (Wasn’t that supposed to be against “net neutrality,” anyway? This is where we are even confused.)
But who ever said Internet pricing wouldn’t rise and fall the way every other commodity does? Why can express postage cost more but express Internet access can’t? Why can rent increase but bandwidth prices can’t? It doesn’t make sense. Bandwidth is a cost like any other cost.
Anyway, the bottom line is that nothing drastic is going to happen to the Internet. It may change over time, but it has always changed over time.
And if something actually bad happens, then the market or regulators can make it right. No one’s going to let it crumble.
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