The Chariot

At a Crossroad

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Articles are being published every day regarding net neutrality and its downfall. The Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal the open internet has begun to swirl into a cyclone of unknown benefits and consequences. Because of this, part of the student body has begun supporting or opposing net neutrality without truly understanding what it is.

Though it is true net neutrality may be protecting the freedoms of Americans, this is not primarily a censorship issue; net neutrality’s repeal is a capitalistic-craze from big business. Although it can’t be confirmed, it can be inferred that members of the FCC are repealing net neutrality by being lobbied, or promised favors behind closed doors, from internet service providers and other businesses.

Consumer Reports published a poll showing that 48 percent of Americans agree that “ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to charge content providers for prioritized delivery of their content.” That is the meat of the conversation that is not discussed by most students. With the repeal of net neutrality, internet service providers will be able to slow down internet speeds in order to offer a premium price for the faster internet that Americans previously possessed for a standard fee. This process is called throttling. Throttling is already being done with unlimited data plans from mobile carriers, though that only comes into action when customers go over the “unlimited” data cap.

The FCC is headed by Trump appointee Ajit Pai. According to Pai’s profile on the official government website, his agenda is very positive, saying, “The federal government must make it easier for broadband providers to retire increasingly obsolete copper lines in favor of next-generation technologies like fiber. It must enable rural residents to have the same choice for stand-alone broadband typically found in cities.”

This seems like a statement many can get behind, but there are some key points to this plan readers and supporters are not being shown. If the agenda is to upgrade our speeds and reach farther than ever before, that sounds perfectly fine. However, the fact of the matter is that this will take decades. While supporters can talk about how this is great for Americans, it in fact will give citizens the short end of the stick. The plan does not detail what will replace the copper lines, and it also does not explain that there are no plans fully laid-out to get this process going. Americans will be paying premiums for “upgraded services” that won’t exist for years.

If students take anything away from this decision, it is smart to remember the following: small businesses will soon begin to plummet in debt, middle-class citizens and below will be swindled out of millions and big businesses will make more money for the things we previously had for free.

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal net neutrality on December 14. The democratic party is rumored to appeal or challenge the vote, which will take up to a year to reach a court date.

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