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The Good, Bad, and Ugly sides of Net Neutrality

by Milicent Atieno
The Good, Bad, and Ugly sides of Net Neutrality

The idea of uncapped, unlimited internet access to all sites sounds good to every consumer as defined under Net Neutrality. As it works out, it should not matter whether you are streaming HD videos on Vimeo, your emails should load just as fast, and you still should be able to talk to your friend on the other side of the Pacific Ocean over Skype.

That is the loose definition of net neutrality, where the internet is open for all, and no site or online service is given undue advantages over the other. Additionally, there is no blocking of any legal sites. However, while the concept of full net neutrality sounds enticing to the end consumers, there are those disgruntled stakeholders who have legitimate grounds not to support neutrality.

In our today’s article, we delve into the two sides of the story that is the pros and cons of net neutrality.


No Censorship

For as long as your content is legal, your site, blog, news services running online, should not be censored online. Without the concept of net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can in theory block visitors to your site if they deem your content is competing with their own content. Say, you set up a rival streaming site, or put up a site that goes against their interest, or you put up content they view as unsuitable. Left unchecked, ISPs could block your site from being visited online. Something that could easily lead to censorship especially under autocratic regimes and silencing the voice of activists or covering up human rights abuses from the rest of the world.

Set the tempo high for Competition leading to Innovation

Perhaps one of the best things about net neutrality is that it sets up a level playing field. Where a startup company gets the same advantages (and disadvantages) as a titan within that space, and to survive companies amidst the increasing competition, they must come up with innovation to remain relevant.

Unlimited Access to all online services/sites

Without net neutrality, you could find a situation where, say, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook pay to have their online services and sites be on the fast lanes of the internet. Where a user can access them fastest, while smaller companies without the pocket to pay to have their sites on the fastest lanes, have their sites become slow to access.

That would lead to a scenario where ISPs charge different rates to different content creators, giving bigger bandwidth to those that pay a premium price for faster services. Net neutrality does away with such possibility, including the chance of ISPs charging a premium fee to visitors (users) to access vital online services. Take, for instance, accessing online banking, email services, or entertainment platforms like Netflix, YouTube, or even Facebook.


Not Enough Revenues for Network Upgrading

ISPs argue that with the increasing numbers of bandwidth-heavy services like video streaming and downloads, which are very demanding of their network infrastructure resources. If they cannot charge higher for these bandwidth-heavy services, then the revenues they make is not enough to carry out upgrades on their network infrastructure.

No Free Internet

ISPs and opponents of net neutrality argue that if access to some online content were to be charged, then there could be some other content that could be accessed for free. Even if the visitors do not have an active internet contract, they could access some important content online for free. Perhaps educations sites like Wikipedia and government to citizens information services could be entirely free to access even without an internet contract with an ISP.

X-rated and Objectionable Sites thrive

Unfortunately, true implementation of net neutrality also means ISPs cannot block access to pornographic sites. Despite the fact these sites are legal, they can easily be accessed by minor even with the supposed age-limitation policy the sites purport to have in place.

If ISPs were allowed to block access to such objectionable sites, it would be a foolproof way of ensuring minor never gets access to online pornographic content.

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