In the contemporary world of technological advancement, net neutrality has been a primary topic of debate for the United States Senate for an extended period. Net neutrality is the non-discriminatory internet transmission, where internet service providers treat all internet data as the same to allow individuals to run applications, services, and access content on their devices without any limitations. In essence, it is the non-preferential treatment of web traffic regardless of the source.
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In net neutrality, ISP acts as passive transmitters of data as opposed to being content managers. In this case, consumers receive equal internet speed access to content across websites regardless of their sizes. Due to the fact that ISPs have the freedom to adjust their Internet services following the repeal of Net Neutrality restrictions, Americans are paying more internet fees, which could injure its innovativeness in the small and medium enterprising sector.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a United States international and local communication regulatory agency. The agency regulates television, radio, wire, cable, and satellite transmissions in the country and its annexes (FCC, 2017). Five commissioners who are selected by the president and vetted by the US Senate run the FCC under the Congress’ oversight. Additionally, POTUS also appoints one of the commissioners to assume the chairperson position. Noticeably, one party can only have three members represented in the organization at any time (FCC, 2017). Moreover, the commissioners have a five-year term unless stated otherwise.
The appointed individuals should not have any competing monetary interests in the broadband industry to eliminate conflicts of interest. On the other hand, the FCC has various functions, which aim at smoothening the nation’s communication sector. Firstly, it promotes investments, competition, and innovation in the internet sector. Secondly, it facilitates the country’s economic growth through the creation of an ideal competitive framework to foresee communication development. Thirdly, it promotes the use of quality spectrum in locally and internationally. Fourthly, it sets and amends media regulations to allow the development of innovative technologies in line with localism and diversity (FCC, 2017). Fifthly, the organizations serve as the nation’s leader in strengthening the communications infrastructure.
Furthermore, the FCC is interested in addressing challenges and economic benefits related to the rapidly changing global communications dynamics to ensure the American consumers are not exploited by ISPs. Internet Service Providers Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are agencies that provide broadband services to allow participation, access, and use of the Internet. They control the amount and speed of data transmitted through their channels to consumers (Kruzel, 2017; Meinrath, 2008). The ISPs aimed at scrapping off the Net Neutrality regulations to regain their power to control and throttle internet connectedness for their economic benefits. The Net Neutrality provision mandated them to treat all data as the same regardless of the source or size. According to Akbarzadeh’s (2014) film Killswitch, the internet has become the world’s new gold in such a way that those who control it have the ability to manage a nation’s wealth and power.
Therefore, the elimination of the regulations would benefit the broadband companies in several ways. Firstly, they would have the ability to offer the delivery of a website’s content faster and reliably at an additional cost towards the users. Secondly, ISPs would be able to increase their internet transmission speeds more than their competitors to enhance their market competitiveness (Kruzel, 2017; Meinrath, 2008). Thirdly, they would have the authority to block any objectionable site sites, which would expose them to public and political lynching. Fourthly, broadband companies would gain the freedom to introduce internet packages (Kruzel, 2017). In this case, they would offer a mix of internet speed options with their corresponding prices. Notably, ISPs are trying to control the market dynamics in the internet sector, where they can manage the speed and access of specific sites and information and capitalize on the same.
Recent Repeal of Net Neutrality The recent repeal of the Net Neutrality restrictions under President Trump’s regime aims at serving the interests of minority ISPs in the expense of the American citizens. The average internet users will be the losers if the US Senate votes against the restrictions (Kruzel, 2018). Firstly, the consumers would incur increased prices for their internet feeds for websites that rely on high internet speed connectivity. Notably, the sites would pass down the costs to the consumers. Moreover, it would deny the American citizens the right to information, where they can choose their websites and applications of choice. If the repeal is successful, the ISPs will gain ultimate control over the open internet market to enhance their economic and ideological gains. Three of the largest ISPs in the United States have pressured the FCC to scrap off the regulations for a decade. They include Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).
According to a 2017 MapLight survey (Bass 2017), the companies had spent $572 million trying to lobby the federal government and the FCC to eliminate the restrictions. Interestingly, the organizations claim that they respect net neutrality but not the regulations used by the FCC to enforce the idea. Importance of Net Neutrality According to Wu (2005), net neutrality is essential since it ensures that short-term interests of ISPs do not prevent consumers from accessing quality applications and products over the Internet. Additionally, it provides that consumers get equal access to all websites and applications without any throttling by the broadband providers. It also plays a vital role in leveling the marketing field for online applications and growth of SMEs. Currently, several changes can happen towards the internet. Firstly, as Wu (2005) notes, the Internet can be transformed into open access such as is the case in the telephone industry. In this case, the Internet would utilize an end-to-end design, which does not impose any restrictions, applications, feature, or services to the user.
On the other hand, it can be transformed into a centralized infrastructure that allows ISPs to check and shape network traffic. Noticeably, ISPs will be able to limit the internet by blocking content, introducing internet caps, slowing rivals internet speeds and offering fast-lane speed to specifically preferred partners (Kruzel, 2017; Meinrath, 2008). The introduction of internet caps will ensure that consumers pay overage fees when they exceed their data packages. Moreover, the ISPs will have the freedom to offer internet packages at a cost like that of cable television programs. The cost of the Internet in the United States is expected to double with the repeal of Net Neutrality due to the creation of a competitive broadband market. Net Neutrality and American Entrepreneurialism Net neutrality has been a vital facilitator of business growth and entrepreneurship in the country; however, the situation may change due to the scrapping of the restrictions. High internet speeds would limit business growth by providing an obstacle towards web innovativeness since most SMEs do have adequate capital to adopt fast-lane internet services (Kruzel, 2017). Furthermore, online startup websites may lose their customers, if ISPs impose data packages that exempt consumers from streaming or accessing the sites. Notably, high internet prices increase the cost of equipment for SMEs in the market as they struggle to acquire infrastructure to support online business-consumer interactions. Significantly, according to Kruzel (2017), throttled internet speeds reduce work efficiency by making accessing to web content slow or inaccessible. Video streaming sites such as Netflix require high-speed connectivity; therefore, they are affected by throttling and capping. Meinrath & Pickard (2008) note that ISPs may direct traffic and offer high Internet speeds to preferred vendors, which would injure the competitiveness of independent business owners.
The situation creates a monopolistic market that is dangerous for both American consumers and web investors. How Net Neutrality Could Affect Our Children’s Ability to Learn Net Neutrality improved the education system in the country by providing children with necessary study and research resources via the internet. However, the situation is bound to change as the ISPs gain the freedom to block or limit the informational websites (Kruzel, 2017). Secondly, since the ISPs will have the right to decide which contents will appear in fast or slow pipes, they may slow down educational sites making them unavailable for the children. The phenomenon will leave children from families with limited connectivity with fewer study resources, which adversely affects their academic performance. Moreover, the end of net neutrality may result in an increased educational gap between children from affluent and low-income earning families.
Furthermore, the above phenomena may reduce innovativeness among the lower and middle class due to limited internet access, which will foresee their decline in political and business leadership participation. Conclusion Overall, the issue of net neutrality has been a controversial topic in the country. Net neutrality has numerous advantages such as increased innovativeness in the educational and entrepreneurial sector; therefore, the FCC should reinstate the rules. The provisions allow equal internet access to all Americans despite the size and source of information. However, throttled internet reduces student’s academic performance, innovativeness, and business growth. Therefore, it is incumbent on the average American citizens to fight for their right to information access to safeguard their future and those of subsequent generations.
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