Did you notice the spinning loading wheel on my site today? Wouldn’t it be annoying if it was always like that? What if the sites you love — for instance, sites like foursquare, Etsy, vimeo, and Reddit, who are all participating in the Internet Slowdown today, if you want to see what that’s like — made you wait for them to load much longer than you’re used to?
Big Cable (Comcast, Time Warner, etc.) Wants to End Net Neutrality
Now imagine that big companies with lots of money could have access to “fast lanes” that would make their content load in an instant, but small companies, and personal sites like mine, would have regular, now-slow-by-comparison internet. The FCC is currently considering giving big cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon the ability to offer exclusive access (for a fee, of course) to a faster internet where they and those who are willing to pay would serve up content at a much faster rate than smaller companies could afford.
Why Should You Care?
Since its inception, the internet has remained a neutral, even-ground kind of place. That’s one reason why lots of people are calling this debate the fight for “net neutrality.” The Internet is supposed to be a place where we can all start off on even footing, and that’s why sites like WordPress, where I can maintain a website for almost nothing, exist. That’s also how sites that were once small, unheard-of start-ups (Facebook, Google, Amazon, to name a few) have now grown into the giants they are. An open, neutral internet gives me, and many other people like me, the opportunity to put their thoughts, and often their work and products, out there for others to consider. It’s how start-ups can succeed, how people make a living off selling their stuff on Etsy, and how freelancers and small business owners everywhere can sometimes get an edge over their larger, more established competition. Please, let’s not ruin that. If you’re with me, head over to the FCC’s site to make a public comment on this decision.
What Is Net Neutrality?
If you want to know more about the issue, check out the website that’s currently powering my own little “Internet Slowdown” today: www.battleforthenet.com, and while you’re there, consider signing the petition against internet fast lanes. Also, if you’re into John Oliver like I am or if you just want a simple but hilarious explanation of the issue, he has a great piece on net neutrality and what cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner have been up to lately. If you want to read some news articles, NPR, The Washington Post, and CNN, along with many other sources, have reported on it.
NPR offered a basic explanation of what net neutrality is, and how it applies to this issue in their article:
“The principle generally means that content isn’t prioritized above others, so that a user can go where he wants and do what he wants on the Internet without the interference of his broadband provider. Supporters of net neutrality protections say that without the rules, Internet service providers like Comcast and Time Warner will have economic incentives to charge content providers, such as Netflix, for ‘faster lanes’ to get to you, the consumer. And that Netflix will have to pay up, because regulations are needed to say, ‘Comcast, you can’t do that.'” – NPR.org, “Your Favorite Sites Will ‘Slow Down’ Today, For A Cause” by Elise Hu
Again, if you decide that internet “fast lanes” are a bad idea, head over to www.fcc.gov/comments to provide your opinion on some of the measures currently being considered. Thanks for thinking of the little guys, and really, anyone who loves a free and open internet.