Does it drive you insane when it takes forever for a video or a site from Time Warner (TWX) , Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Report or Verizon (VZ) - Get Report to load on your phone? Well, it could get worse after Thursday's vote by the Federal Trade Commission.
Your cable company (a.k.a., your Internet service provider, or ISP, whom you probably hate already) now has complete control of your Internet access, including what you get to see and how fast you get information.
What Exactly is Net Neutrality?
Net-neutrality rules were passed in February, 2015 to ensure that ISPs allow you access to everything: No pushing favorites. No blocking particular apps or sites. In other words, neutrality, or equality, for all.
What Happens Now That Those Rules Are Gone?
Without net neutrality, your ISP can slow access or block you from particular content, if it so chooses.
Here's why: Your ISP provides the infrastructure you need to have the web delivered to your home and phone, which allows your favorite sites — like Facebook (FB) - Get Report , Alphabet's (GOOG) - Get Report Google, Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report — to flow freely right on in.
Think of your ISP as the open highway that currently allows anyone to drive on it. If net neutrality goes away, the ISPs get to decide who drives and how fast they can go.
ISPs can now choose to put content in "slow lanes" with slower load-times, unless the customer pays more to speed it back up. As an example, Verizon could charge you more to get Netflix driven to your home.
Without net neutrality, Internet speed and access are at risk -- and so is your wallet, because you may be asked to pay more to get it all back.
Why Did the FCC Remove These Rules?
Ajit Pai, President Trump's new FCC chairman, has been talking about doing away with net-neutrality rules since April. He told PBS News Hour that investment in ISP infrastructure has gone down because of these rules and believes they disincentivize companies from building out structures in low-income and rural areas.
The broadband providers will argue otherwise, so let the lobbying begin.
Your ISP, for sure, because it can favor its own content and charge you whatever it wants for you to get it.
The folks at Time Warner, Comcast, and Verizon are doing the happy dance right about now, after the FCC vote.
Your favorite sites -- like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, plus smaller content providers like Cheddar TV that don't have enough muscle to scream "unfair."
In addition, many argue that removing these rules could crush innovation. How can a starter company compete if it will have to agree to special deals with the ISPs to reach the consumer?
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