The Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines to repeal net neutrality on Thursday — despite a majority of American voters being opposed to the repeal and a number of lawmakers calling for the vote to be delayed.
Under the Obama-era net neutrality regulations, the internet is treated as a public utility — meaning that all data on the internet is treated equally. Service providers are prevented from amplifying certain companies or content over alternatives, and are forbidden from charging more to access certain websites or features of the web. Corporations like Comcast and Verizon are bound by the regulations to provide all of their customers access to the entire internet.
Naturally, these service providers have lobbied against the regulations because they are corporations seeking profit. Now that net neutrality has been repealed, these companies could charge certain websites more for faster service and access to users.
The website Vocativ summed up one of the potential problems faced by end users as a result of the repeal:
Picture this: It’s six months into the great Comcast-Verizon War of 2018. A buddy texts you how insane the third season of Stranger Things is, but he knows he’s just rubbing it in. You can’t legally watch it, since Netflix sided with Verizon in the conflict, and your neighborhood only gets Comcast. You try to visit the Wikipedia page to read the summary, and not even that works. Ever since Congress voted to defang the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there’s nothing keeping internet providers in check.
Beyond that, charging more for better access, or to bundle certain services like social media or streaming, would result in higher bills for customers — unless they opt for something akin to a “base” package, which could provide the speed of early dial-up, leaving them waiting hours for a video clip to load, as Metro noted.
One Reddit user, Aidan_King, created a graphic to show what could happen to your internet bill now that net neutrality no longer binds corporations to provide equal service and access:
As you can see, users could be charged more per month to access certain websites, or to have access to more websites. And if the companies and websites want to have access to the providers’ customer base, they might also have to pay, otherwise perhaps face slower speeds or be blocked.