Internet should be equal opportunity

O-Net-Neutrality Colby Patterson

O-Net-NeutralityThe debate over net neutrality or whether Internet service providers should give preferential treatment to certain websites — giving more bandwidth to some websites to make them faster while others remain slow or almost nonfunctional — is a very real one.

Recently, a federal court ruling struck down a regulation that ensures net neutrality. This is a problem. Websites should be favored by how well they cater to visitors, not by the whims of Internet service providers. Retaining net neutrality is important in the digital age.

With net neutrality, Internet providers have to treat all websites the same. They can’t give more bandwidth to one or the other to make different websites faster. Without it, this equal opportunity disappears, which could facilitate sketchy business practices. For example, one provider could make the websites of its competitors slower. Service providers could favor different email or video websites, depending on what alliances they have and what might be better for their business.

Without net neutrality, service providers could demand that websites pay for better treatment. Some companies, such as Google and Amazon, could easily afford that, but smaller websites couldn’t. So the rich would get richer, and the poor would get poorer. The larger web companies would have increased traffic because they can afford to provide better service for their customers, while the websites who couldn’t afford it would suffer from the reduced traffic.
One function of Internet service providers is to continually improve so customers will keep paying. Without net neutrality, Internet service providers have new ways to make more money, such as charging companies exorbitant fees for broadband, as I mentioned earlier. They wouldn’t be as concerned with keeping customers satisfied. The quality of the Internet would go down for almost everybody.

There have been recent suspicions that Verizon has been intentionally slowing Netflix down, which raises another concern. A lot of Internet service providers also provide cable TV. They would get more cable viewership if it weren’t for websites like Netflix and Hulu, which are cheaper than cable. Providers could make it slower to stream online videos, which would give them more cable business.

Net neutrality doesn’t hurt any businesses. Small businesses on the Internet can stay afloat while large web companies and Internet providers still do just fine. Getting rid of net neutrality creates unnecessary problems with the system. It hurts small businesses when the large ones aren’t threatened at all. It also inconveniences everyone with higher fees and slower Internet. In the 21st century, the Internet is an important part of everyone’s life. Net neutrality is important and should be a priority.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu