- On Wednesday, Burger King released a pseudo-educational prank video that shows what would happen if the company repealed “Whopper neutrality,” the Burger King equivalent of net neutrality.
- The Federal Communications Commission voted in December to reverse net-neutrality regulations adopted in 2015.
- Net neutrality means internet service providers cannot block, slow, or provide preferential treatment to particular sites and services.
Burger King threw its hat into the political ring on Wednesday when the company took a firm stance on net neutrality repeal in a prank video posted to YouTube.
The video shows what would happen if the restaurant industry mimicked the potential effects of the FCC’s recent repeal of net neutrality.
In the video, unsuspecting customers were alarmed to suddenly find that their usual Whopper sandwich orders would be made at a slower “mbps,” or “making burgers per second,” reports Business Insider’s Antonio Villas-Boas.
In reality, “Mbps” is usually a measure of internet speed and stands for “megabits per second.”
In the video, customers paying the minimum amount for their Whoppers had to wait 15 to 20 minutes unless they paid dramatically more – from $US13 for the fast mbps to $US26 for the hyperfast mbps option for a single Whopper order.
Customers were visibly confused and upset. “Oh, my God – this is the worst thing I’ve ever heard of,” one angry customer said.
Watch the video below:
What net neutrality could mean for your internet bill
The Federal Communications Commission, led by chairman Ajit Pai, voted in December to repeal the net-neutrality rules it put in place in 2015 during the Obama administration.
“Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should, in general, treat all data sent over the network the same, no matter whether it’s an email, an emoji sent over a chat service, a phone call, a political rant live-streamed by a college student from her parents’ basement, or the latest show on Netflix,” Business Insider’s Steve Kovach explained.
Pai’s proposal, named the Restoring Internet Freedom order, would enable internet service providers, such as Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, and Verizon, to favour their sites and services and charge customers fees to access – or, at the very least, quickly load – rival sites.
In other words, you may no longer be able to access every website on the internet with your current monthly fee.
“If you’re a Comcast customer, you may have to pay extra to be able to stream video from Netflix or Amazon, rather than from NBC or Hulu, which Comcast part-owns, Kovach wrote. “If you’re a Verizon customer, you may get charged extra to access Google’s news or finance sites rather than Yahoo’s.”
Ultimately, the new order will reclassify ISPs as “information services” instead of “public utilities,” giving the FCC less regulatory authority. All this can happen as long as the ISPs or telecommunications companies disclose their practices to customers, businesses, and the FCC.
But it’s not only customers who could be paying more – ISPs may charge companies a toll to make their content available.
Big tech companies like Google, Netflix, and Spotify wouldn’t be happy about the tolls, but they’d most likely pay them because they can afford it. Smaller startups, on the other hand, could have a harder time paying.
That’s one argument lobbed by net-neutrality supporters – that repealing the rules would kill innovation and favour the current behemoths.
“If every new company has to pay to play, you’re sucking dollars away from innovation and using them to line ISP pockets,” Nilay Patel, the editor-in-chief of The Verge, wrote in an article earlier this year.
And if smaller companies couldn’t afford these tolls, competition would thin, and we’d be left with less content to choose from.
The exact fees and tolls that ISPs would charge remain to be seen, but if you want to keep watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix or listening to the latest hits on Spotify, your internet bill is likely to increase.