On January 15, the DC District Court of Appeals struck down the FCC's Open Internet Rules, also known as the net neutrality rules, on the basis that they had no legal grounding. The net neutrality rules forced broadband providers to have all sources of Internet traffic, from social media to online gaming, to be treated equally in terms of regulation. With these rules gone, the way internet services will be used in the coming future will be very different. Not only will public consumption be affected, but businesses dependent on the internet and the tech industry in general have reason to worry.
The net neutrality rules caused internet service providers such as Verizon (who carried the case against the FCC), Comcast, and AT&T to let all broadband-using services be treated uniformly in terms of regulation and costs. Now, however, these ISPs will now have a new power of being able to pick and choose which companies can have access to speedy broadband service and which ones cannot. In other words, any website, corporation, or internet service's quality of internet traffic will be determined by how much cash they are willing to fork over. A large and popular corporation such as Netflix, which has made extensive profits off of video streaming services, a major source of web traffic, will be among the services most highly charged for the option of having their broadband stay top-notch. This will most likely cause Netflix to have to charge its consumers almost $5 more per month in order to stay in budget. Several other web giants, such as Amazon and Google, will see their businesses affected in the same way and will have to decide how they are going to make the extra money to keep their services at the speed they need. However, it is reasonable to assume that these companies, among the biggest in the world, will be able to wear off the initial shock of the new laws.
The biggest concern for businesses when it comes to the internet is in the future of startups. Several of the web's biggest companies, such as the aforementioned ones, all started as small internet sites that then grew into what they became today. With net neutrality policies, most entrepreneurs could afford to have funding to build up their ambitious projects, as they only had to pay as much as anyone else did for quality web service. With the new laws, it will be much more costly for startup companies to get funded, much less to actually get started and keep running. Investors will likely back away from most new tech business pitches, as the cost of assisting these business will be too high to risk. This prediction of a loss of internet innovation in the future has been one of the biggest criticisms of the strikedown of the net neutrality laws. After all, without startups, the internet would not have many of the same wonderful sites and services that exist today.
As the policies of net neutrality have not been officially terminated yet, there is still time to enjoy a free and open internet before the money comes into play. How do you feel about the end of net neutrality? How do you think businesses and corporations can keep their profits while still fitting broadband into the budget? What do you feel is the future of internet entrepreneurship?