Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, is planning to roll back the well-known and established net neutrality, but maybe the reaction isn’t where it should be at the moment.
Net neutrality isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but instead an issue of a lack of a free market in the United States for broadband service. In more than half of the United States, 55 percent, there is only one provider available to choose from. The other 45 percent is only a bit luckier, as they have two to select from. This leaves consumers with no or little choice if a provider decides to exert its power and choose to limit the content available or send prices skyrocketing for the same content most Internet users access currently.
This isn’t something that you can expect to change any time in the near future because the cost to create a broadband cable network is enormous. Take a look at Verizon’s attempt to expand FIOS. They spent more than $20 billion and only covered Los Angeles and the northeastern portion of the country. The next prospect is 5G mobile broadband, which has potential to allow more competition but is still the beginning for an industry with no free market competition.
The concept of net neutrality on its own might not be so bad because consumers would have the choice of the type of content that they want. Some might opt to pay lower prices for more savings, but this isn’t a guarantee that the savings would be passed to the consumers. It would be ideal If they could utilize a provider that doesn’t throttle speeds and allows the same speed for all sites as established in net neutrality.
The two largest cable companies, Charter and Comcast, have said that they will uphold the concept of net neutrality even if Pai’s desires lie elsewhere. The concern now is that they will end up ending zero rating. This is a concern because content provided by these networks doesn’t count towards data caps, effectively giving them another market advantage.
Pai believes that the FCC doesn’t need to impose laws because it adds to regulation and is unnecessary, meaning the issue would flip to Congress. Looking at the current political climate, that wouldn’t be a good idea either because the legislation would take too long to pass. Most companies likely won’t tamper with net neutrality because it would turn their consumers into haters, but zero rating is what should be at the forefront right now. This gives companies more incentive to push consumers to purchase all-inclusive packages to get their television plus Internet and perks, discouraging customers from using content from other networks since it counts towards their data limits.
Pai is anticipating the issue to be of little issue in the next two to three years as competition can expand with the introduction of the 5G Internet, but the truth in that is something that can’t be determined until it happens.
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