What is Net Neutrality ?

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Disruptive technology has the force to change existing landscape. Radio redefined way of communication. Before its discovery, communication took several months, sometimes even years to reach its recipient. After it became ubiquitous, results were everywhere to be seen. Important public messages reached millions of people in real time. In the 60’s and 70’s, television performed a similar role to Radio. However, television had an additional feature of visual broadcasting. Though, both Radio and Television captured public imagination, it was nowhere comparable to internet. Internet made the globe a seamless sphere of information. Stepping into 21st century, Internet became a popular term. Along the good things, arrived some complicated issues related to Internet. One of them is the Net Neutrality.

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Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should have access to all applications and contents oblivious of the source. Besides, no specific products or websites should be favoured or blocked. The principle has aroused controversial debates cutting across countries, corporations and even governments. Example of violation of net neutrality principles was the Internet service provider Comcast slowing uploads using forged packets with a hidden agenda. It came under severe questioning and criticism.

Net Neutrality shaping the Internet: It has shaped the internet in two fundamental ways.

First and foremost, web users can connect to desired websites, services and products. Internet service providers are not concerned about contents flowering from their respective servers. This resulted in mushrooming of Internet into a truly global network which enabled freedom of choice, speech and expression. Ex: One is free to criticize an ISP on a blog post. Remarkably, ISP won’t even block access to that post.

Secondly, Net Neutrality has provided a level playing field on the internet. No one can claim preferential treatment. Starting a website does not require lot of money or connections. Simply host a websites and be ready to move. If the sever is good, web users will favour the websites. This led to creation of giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter and innumerable spectacular services. All the above had a humble beginning. They reached critical mass because Net Neutrality allowed web users to access these websites free of cost and without hindrance.

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Absence of Net Neutrality

If Net Neutrality is not there, ISP’s will have power and inclination to control internet traffic. In the process, the providers can derive immense financial benefits. Ex: there is a common belief among Internet service providers to charge extra for websites like YouTube and Netflix. The reason being extra bandwidth consumed compared to normal websites. So basically, ISP’s want a share of the money that Youtube or Netflix makes. Absence of Net Neutrality will increase the burden on the consumers. Consumers will end up paying extra bucks for services which has been free. It will encourage package plans like satellite television.

Moreover, lack or absence of net neutrality will negate innovation on the web. It may result in ISP’s demanding extra money from a new website. If it fails to pay the money, access to the websites may be slowed down considerably. The web users will be the ultimate losers. A new website may have a brilliant idea. However, users won’t be able to access it smoothly due to ISP’s discretion.

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