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Growing Concern Over Net Neutrality Prompts Debate

Net neutrality has become one of the most heated issues regarding the future of the Internet. When you log onto the web, an instant stream of information and data compete to deliver content to your screen.

Watching online video, delivering podcasts, and searching for news updates are of many users’ daily use of broadband services. Recent efforts to alter the rules of net neutrality are inciting a heated public debate about how the Internet will serve the average citizen in the coming years.

Subscription and data management

Proponents of reducing some aspects of net neutrality argue that certain networks would benefit from enhanced data speeds. Services such as Netflix have already received a speed boost for Comcast customers.

Many see this change as a benefit for bundled service packages, while others view it as the first sign of tiered management. Speed to run applications and installation of content is a concern for many users that may see different streams of data to be managed under varying levels of service.

However, an article on BGR states that portions of net neutrality may be returned due to the recent fall-out from a projected loss of data stability.

Net neutrality and the opposition

The growing debate over net neutrality was sparked by a recent Federal Communications Commission ruling that eliminates certain provisions in the 2010 network neutrality regulations. Previously, all broadband data was treated equally in terms of speed and reliability.

Several areas of debate have arisen with regard to whether this recent ruling will affect Internet service, namely:

• Business competition

Many opponents feel the recent ruling will create unnecessary competition from business that would stifle innovation. Preferential treatment of data would present problems for startup companies and smaller outfits that would have to rely on a lower tier of service.

• Data speed

Concerns over tiered data have intensified because large network carriers may create rules for the cost of extra services. Streaming content is one of the largest factors in data speed. Paid peering arrangements between companies have challenged the notion of direct connection for the highest possible speeds.

• Discrimination

According to an article in Forbes, Mozilla Corporation is seeking legislation that would reduce priority deals and negotiations that would inhibit users’ freedom of service. A common carrier service was requested for sites such as Amazon and YouTube so that ISPs would not be able to block or discriminate content against an edge provider.

Discrimination is a concern among both ISPs and consumers. Companies such as Mozilla are leading the way in questioning the motives of the FCC as well as looking to define clear rules on common carrier uses.

Innovation viewpoints

According to a report from Network World, venture capitalists who invest in startup companies are starting to shy away from media-heavy startups due to projected increases in operating costs. Many entrepreneurs and cottage industry Internet enthusiasts see this as a bad sign for network reliability and free access for consumers.

The FCC most likely will continue to revise the ruling in the coming months. However, net neutrality will continue to be one of the most intensely debated topics about the future of the Internet and the various data providers that make up its web of services.