It's been highly publicised, and everyone (except Ajit Pai and Donald Trump) seemed to be against it. But here we are - and the natural question is, what now?
Well, in truth, that was the first battle. Over the coming months and years, there will be new net neutrality and open internet fights that need to be fought. They won’t be easy. They won’t be fun. But they’ll need your support.
So, accepting that we’ve taken the L on this one, here's everything that could happen next and how it will impact you.
What is Net Neutrality?
The first question everyone asks when discussing Net Neutrality is 'what is it'?
Net Neutrality is the concept that the internet needs to be a level playing field for everyone. Every website you visit needs to be delivered at the same speed as all others.
By removing net neutrality, this allows ISPs to create faster or slower lanes depending on how websites and users pay. For example, if Hulu wants to beat Netflix, they could pay ISPs to slow down Netflix content while delivering Hulu at full speed. That would encourage users to go to Hulu instead of Netflix.
For users, it could be a similar concept where if you want to access Netflix at full speed, you would need to pay more each month. It can quickly result in your costs skyrocketing and competition online being hindered.
How Does it Impact Anyone Outside the US?
It's important to know that the recent decision to kill net neutrality by the FCC is something that only impacts residents of the United States. Anywhere else in the world is subject to your own local laws as it relates to net neutrality. That means your local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not affected by the FCC.
Now, that said, countries around the world have different laws surrounding net neutrality. In fact, roughly half of the world lives without net neutrality protection. And those that do, may consider evaluating those protections in light of the United States’ decision.
If you live in a country that HAS net neutrality laws, pay attention to make sure those laws are not eroded. If you live in a country without net neutrality laws, you should start speaking to your politicians about implementing them. At ThisIsNetNeutrality.org, you'll find the status of net neutrality in your country.
How Does it Impact Anyone Within the US?
Effective December 14, 2017 - Net Neutrality rules in the USA were removed. As a result, ISPs immediately have the opportunity to impact internet speeds and create fast lanes.
For consumers, this means that websites you love may be slower - while others will remain the same speed. You may see ISPs offer new paid upgrades for faster lanes (while others are artificially slowed down).
It could even be as big as not being able to view YouTube content in 1080p, never mind 4K - if your access is limited to only allowing 720p playback. These are all possibilities now that net neutrality is dead.
We all hate buffering right? Well, net neutrality protected against that. To prevent this from happening (or at the very least, limit the damage), there will be a series of battles that occur.
The most likely next step is a legal battle involving individual States or from coalition entities. The individual States have a higher chance of winning their battles for a variety of reasons.
First off, they can argue that the death of net neutrality negatively impacts the local economy or local laws. There's also the likelihood of a lawsuit over the FCC's handling of fraudulent comments and the nonsense that went along with that. Many comments were fake, including some from dead people's names and addresses.
Furthermore, comments that were in favour of net neutrality were ignored. That flies in the face of how a society should function.
These legal battles will take months to process as they see their way through the courts. They do remain the most likely way to, at the very least, provide a temporary stay on the decision. Pay attention to them and voice your support when possible.
Acts by Congress
Considering the amount of support that there was for Net Neutrality, it's possible Congress could act to develop proper laws in support of it. In order for this to happen, individual outpouring of requests needs to continue. Send emails, make phone calls and otherwise let your representatives know that you STILL care about net neutrality.
As 2018 is an election year, net neutrality could play a major role. Make it an issue, and ask them if they visit your town. If your candidate refuses to support net neutrality, don't vote for them and actively campaign against them for a candidate who will.
While it may not be likely that Congress acts upon this, there is the possibility - keep it on top of mind!
Live to Fight for Net Neutrality Another Day
The most likely scenario here is that the battle for net neutrality goes quiet. Most ISPs know that people are still against this change, and will likely NOT make any changes in the short term.
Once the concept of net neutrality is out of people's minds, that's when they'll act. At that point, most people's attention will be on other things and the firestorm may be weakened.
As such, what we may need to do is bide our time. Basically, live to fight another day.
Once ISP's start to act on the lack of net neutrality and start slowing/charging more, that's when you fight back harder than ever. You rally the troops and make this a top of mind concern again. It may not be the ideal solution, but until people start to see it affecting them they will lose interest.
Epidemic Sound is a supporter of Net Neutrality, and while it may be dead for now, the battle will continue!