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The invention and commercialization of the internet is one of the things that makes America great. And what makes the internet great is the easy, unrestricted, and free availability of all kinds of information, regardless of the content provider, a regime known as network neutrality. Having supported the fast growth of internet-based companies that currently serve as the backbone of today’s US economy, net neutrality is pro-business, pro-growth, and pro-freedom.
But President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison to the Federal Communications Commission’s transition team sends a clear message: Net neutrality is in grave danger. Eisenach consulted for Verizon, and Jamison worked for Sprint. These companies, together with AT&T and cable TV providers, are fierce enemies of network neutrality, since the system limits their ability to exercise market power and exploit content providers and consumers. Without net neutrality rules, prioritization of internet traffic by telecom and cable companies would skew the competition for content, as well as tilt the scales in the dissemination of all political and social views in favor of websites and companies that are able to pay internet access providers.
While abolishing network neutrality might initially increase profits for telecom and cable companies, long-term, it would harm both internet-focused companies and consumers. Telecom and cable companies claim that consumers will pay less if they abandon network neutrality, but economic models dispute that. Cable and telecom companies want to kill network neutrality to increase their profits, not decrease prices for consumers. Without net neutrality, consumers would be forced to access a distorted internet, where information is prioritized according to the financial interests of telecom and cable companies.
Following a liberalization of regulations by the FCC, in 2005 AT&T and other telecom and cable companies proposed to impose tolls on information flows and to prioritize the flow of information based on whether a website paid the toll. So, for example, if the Wall Street Journal paid AT&T but the New York Times did not, the Journal information would reach web users faster, creating an uneven playing field in news. Similarly, if Yahoo paid AT&T but Google did not, Yahoo’s search results would show up first, tilting the field of competition among search providers.
By employing a system of prioritization, telecom and cable companies would define the terms of competition in internet search, in news, and in the myriad of markets that we reach through the internet. What’s more, telecom and cable companies sell video and telecom services through their traditional networks that are in direct competition with such services delivered through the internet. Imposing prioritization could easily tilt competition in favor of cable and telecom companies, to the detriment of many millions of consumers.
Fortunately for American business and consumers, in 2015, after a long regulatory battle, the FCC passed rules that codified network neutrality. The rules require that telecom and cable companies treat all information flows equally and do not collect fees to prioritize any application or content. But after Trump’s election, net neutrality’s opponents, traditional entrenched telecom and cable monopoly interests with strong lobbying arms, are once again lobbying to abolish network neutrality.
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Read More At: https://www.wired.com/2017/01/dont-gut-net-neutrality-good-people-business/