I make it no secret that the views and opinions on this site are wholly my own. I feel it is important to look at each issue in the micro and macro.
I support a free and open internet. I NEED a free and open internet. This is the same for all independent entrepreneurs, start-up companies, or artists. The ramifications are vast if this issue, commonly under the banner of “net neutrality”, are left to the machinations of internet service providers.
This will come as a shock to many people that know me, but I do not like being dependent on the internet. It is a wonderful tool. It is a personal failing that I get so hooked into my electronics that little else matters. For the sake of a career, I have to go where the people are. And we the people use the internet. Outside of WordPress, I have everything from Facebook outlets to Instagram. It is easy to cross-post my content and have it reach the maximum number of potential audience members. I have made some headway this year. Since becoming a Steam Curator a few months ago I have seen steady traffic to my blog. My fear is that when left to ISPs, my ability to grow will be locked behind more paywalls.
I was probably a “cord cutter” before there was a word for it. The few times I had access to cable there were less than a handful of channels I’d actually watch. Cable itself was a hard purchase to justify. Spending a noticeable percentage of my monthly income for channel packages that I could never get full usage out it led me to save my money. With some patience, I could wait until shows came out and I could rent them back in the days of video stores. With the original incarnation of Netflix, shipping DVDs to ones’ home, this was made easier. And as digital distribution became ubiquitous acquiring media to watch has been easier than ever. Plus I can even do it legally. In my adult life, I have never paid a cable company for those services.
For my business, I need open internet, to reach as many people as possible. For my entertainment, I need open internet, to draw from whichever source has the media I want. For everything in between, I need open internet. Being able to pursue new interests and curiosities is vital to my personal growth.
I do not want to think that companies would simply cut off aspects of the internet. If I had a “Gamers’ Package” because that is my strongest leaning, they wouldn’t ban me from watching YouTube. But it may be so limited that doing so wouldn’t be feasible. I recently lived with a slow internet connection. In order to watch a video, I would have to let it play through once. This kept it loaded in the browser. Otherwise, I would have to contend with buffering every twenty seconds. A five-minute video took a half hour to get through. Running more videos slowed it down. Sometimes the best thing I could do was start a half dozen videos before going to sleep and viewing them when I awoke. Although if my browser or computer restarted, or the power went out for any reason, I was back to square one.
Additionally, I am under no illusion that ISPs will not strong arm companies to get more money out of them. If put in control I truly think they would charge customers more money for more limited internet access. I think they would also charge companies (Netflix, YouTube, WordPress, Steam, whoever they could) more money to ensure they had swift connection speeds. If both sides don’t pay up, ISPs could keep traffic from flowing.
At the end of 2013 and into the beginning of 2014 Comcast and Netflix were in negotiations. The cable company/ISP at one point limited bandwidth to Netflix. Customers complained and Netflix was forced to meet Comcast’s demands. Practices like this would become standard operating procedure were the FCC to allow it. Once that sets in, there would be no way around it. The companies at the top of the mountain would be able to stay there safely as the path for others to do so would be too arduous.
Going forward the only thing to do is to “play the game” as my father would say. It seems as though this issue will come up occasionally, and only with diligence can the present boundaries be held. Personally, it has become an issue that will be put on my voting checklist. Know the legal measures linked to this, and ensure that it is included in all correspondences. Namely, this would ensure oversight of internet service providers as outlined in Title II. Whatever you use the internet for, I feel it would behoove you to join me in ensuring it is free and open for everyone.