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How Net Neutrality Could Impact Your Favorite Things on the Internet

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The term “net neutrality” is an oft-discussed topic being thrown around with great frequency these days. Despite the prevalence of usage in the media, it remains shrouded in mystery as to what net neutrality actually means, and perhaps more importantly, how it will impact those who consider the internet to be as near and dear to their heart as a family member.

Although net neutrality is an America-centric issue – as dictated by the Federal Communications Commission – it has worldwide precedent with many other developing nations looking toward the United States as it relates to how to handle broadband issues in places where technology is still woefully behind parts of the West.

As it stands, net neutrality allows anyone and everyone with an internet connection to access the web on an unlimited basis and doesn’t allow carriers to dictate how much broadband is used or at which speeds sites are accessed.

Whether you only use the internet to check your email once a week, or binge-watch Netflix or Amazon on a daily basis, each person should be viewed the same.

But with the revised net neutrality plans – with the votes currently predicted at 3-2 to repeal current legislation – wireless providers could potentially block some sites or slow down data, and could even potentially slow down traffic to rivals.

In the latter example, should one broadband carrier prefer Amazon’s streaming platform over Netflix, they could charge Netflix – and ultimately its users – an added fee to receive the same speeds.

This is not a new issue. As former President Barack Obama explained in 2014: “No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee” – referring to the potential of broadband getting cozy with certain brands or intimidating huge conglomerates like Google into paying a vig to access the fast lane.

Portugal is already a country where net neutrality modifications have come to fruition. As detailed by its current plan, after paying an initial fee, a person has to then fork up an additional €4.99 per tier – with sections separated into likeminded services like messaging (Skype, WhatsApp), social (Facebook Instagram, Snapchat), video (YouTube, Netflix), music (Spotify), and email/cloud (Gmail, Google Drive).

If this sounds familiar, it mimics how cable television has been treated for the last several decades.

Even though there is a monetary precedent already set in Europe, an American carrier could potentially charge any rate that it wants – hypothetically setting up a scenario where the internet becomes an amenity instead of a basic necessity.

It also has a similar feel of a two-bit gangster looking to shake down local business owners for a “protection” fee just to be able to open their doors.

Needles to say, if the December 14 vote – spearheaded by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai – goes as planned, your daily routine could be dramatically impacted.

Here’s how.

Netflix

Under the preposed legislation, broadband carriers could slow down Netflix’s streaming capabilities – looking to draw added fees out of the streaming juggernaut as it tried to prevent a drop in playback quality. Since Netflix isn’t in the business of creating content simply to manifest goodwill with its subscription base, it would more than likely raise its rates to compensate.

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