So, the FCC killed Net Neutrality yesterday, and it sucks. The FCC Net Neutrality standards have been what has kept the internet fair and equal for the last few years, and that's all about to die. As soon as Donald Trump was elected, we knew this was coming. Donald Trump is ALL about deregulating and putting power in the hands of corporations. The argument is that companies need to deregulate to afford the cost of innovation, but in reality, its also so they can reap the profits. The biggest issue with this is they did it to a set of corporations were building a startup is impossible and they are universally hated by most Americans. Even with that, they are a necessary evil to be part of the modern world. Who are these hated corporations? They are Internet Service Providers (ISP's), and now they have all the power.
Real basically, Net Neutrality is a rule put in place by the Obama administration that prevents ISP's from making decisions that affect what you access on the Internet. Some of the things prevented by the Net Neutrality rules include massive price hikes on broadband service, pay lanes where a web-based service can pay an ISP for faster speeds, prioritizing services that the ISP may own, blocking services or news that the ISP may not like, and other ways that just prevent the freedom of the internet.
Eliminating these rules put all the power in the hands of companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile, and the few others that can compete at the ISP level. The argument for the end of Net Neturality os that these ISP's need the end in of regulation to innovate, but do you know what innovate means to them? At best, an ISP is a pipe that connects us to the internet. They can make that pipe faster, and all of them were ALREADY doing that. Ending Net Neutrality was going to do nothing to change that. It's all about the money.
It all comes down to the fact that these ISP's want to be more than pipes, and they want to rake in the money that comes with being more. You can just look at the slimy tactics that all of them are taking at the moment to ensure that you use them, but that also allows them to charge higher prices while also making money from the real innovators, developers.
All of the major ISP's are making moves to buy media companies. The purchase of media companies allows them to give you that content for free, but there is nothing to say that they won't raise your broadband price using that material as justification. They can also charge on the other end. Developers that they don't own now will have to pay the ISP a fee to ensure that their site is not throttled. Some examples of these purchases: Comcast bought NBC/Universal, AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner (which gives them control of HBO), and Verizon has purchased both AOL and Yahoo.
Let's take AT&T as an example. AT&T is trying to push a purchase of Time Warner through government regulators. When it happens, it means that AT&T can offer all of their customers HBO for free, but it does not say they won't raise your overall price in the future using that perk as justification. Whose one of HBO's biggest content competitors? Netflix. For Netflix, the end of Net Neutrality means that they may have to pay AT&T a fee to ensure that AT&T does not throttle the speed of their service. On top of that, AT&T can charge the consumer to ensure that you see Netflix in the highest video quality.
The worst of the bunch though maybe Verizon. Verizon has continuously been the one that has pushed for the end of Net Neutrality, and their content plan is a bit different. While Yahoo does have some content pieces, it is also one of the biggest advertisement networks on the internet. Google and Facebook have built empires off of targeted add networks, and Verizon purchased AOL/Yahoo to get in on it. I would be frightened if I was a Verizon customer at this point. It feels like lots of targeted ads and other Verizon garbage are coming.
To me, the ISP's are some of the worst companies on the planet, and at this point, we are stuck with them. Being an ISP takes significant infrastructure spending, and it takes considerable work with governments in order use telephone polls and dig up ground to lay wire. It's also just going to get worse. With the end of Net Neutrality, these companies are only going to get bigger making it even harder to compete. Basically, we are stuck with companies we all hate, and they can take advantage of us even more.
You know what our best solution is at this point? It is more competition, and there are only a handful of companies that have both the innovative spirit and money to be able to do it. Who are those companies? Well, it's the big boys in technology Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook.
I know what your thinking. Why give the big boys more power, and didn't Google Fiber fail? My answers: because I trust them more than the ISP and yes it failed, but it could succeed.
Why should we give the big boys more power? Well, to start their slime (except at times Facebook) is currently less than the ISP's. It also brings more competition to the space, and the big boys could optimize their devices to network connections at a low cost. I am not saying we need to get rid of the ISP's. Put them in a position where they have to innovate or they day. The competition also lowers cost to the consumer.
The other thing to consider here is didn't Google Fiber fail. The answer to that is Yes, but they went the hardcore way of laying cable. This increased their cost exponentially, and it meant they had to have government partnerships to make things work. That failure means that the way for these companies to go is NOT wired. These five companies are some of the most innovative in the world, and it's time for them to do that. For them to join the ranks of the ISP's, they need a technology that allows them to deliver a signal without adverse health effects at a low cost. Twenty years ago we would not have imagined that the smartphone era would be upon us, why can't this be a new goal.
Why would the five big boys want to do this? All of them have taken or are beginning to take Apple's lead with a closed loop on their devices. Why would they not want to add to that closed loop by taking control of the actual network? It would allow them to maximize their device to those network settings, and it would allow them to deliver targeted advertisements through that network. Obviously, the cost is high, but they are the companies who actually have the money to do it. If they come up with a new way to deliver signal that doesn't require digging and government, they can lower the current cost by a bunch.
To sum it all up, the end of Net Neutrality sucks, and all it does is give some of the worst corporations in the US more money. At this point, the only way to ensure things don't get super crazy is to figure out a way to add competition to them. The only companies that have the power and money to do that at this point are the big five (Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon). I hate giving them more influence, but I would much rather depend on them then At&t, Comcast, and Verizon. If anything, it gives you five competitors to the four that are currently in the ISP market. In reality, it's not the best answer, but we can't depend on the government to come up with a good one.