Showing posts with label monopoly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monopoly. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Digital Freedom

Our Digital Freedom is under attack. Net Neutrality is a very important set of consumer protections that we are all guilty of taking for granted. 

Many of us don't remember the early age of privatized Internet over two decades ago with AOL, Earthlink, and other dial-up internet service providers dictating the internet portals and tools its consumers had to use. In those early days, people were too mesmerized by the promise of Internet to pay attention that the very providers to whom they paid money for access, were in fact maximizing their profits by limiting their customers' options. But in the days of dial-up speeds, content was limited in itself. Therefore, these restrictions did not seem to limit any desirable content from the users' screens.

Fast forward to the present. Our networks are now flush with fiber-optic high speed connectivity, we have multiple competing streaming content providers, and the choices we often make when browsing the web may be undesirable to our Internet Service Provider's bottom line. 

Our previous US administration, for all its shortcomings, was wise enough to foresee the potential for predatory abuse and introduced the Net Neutrality protection. 

What is Net Neutrality? Essentially, it is a law that states that every Internet Service Provider must treat every Internet content its customers request equally, regardless of origin. A popular example of this is consider that you are a customer of Verizon FiOS and have a Netflix subscription. Now Verizon already offers Video On Demand content, as well as a slew of movies through its lineup of networks and premium channels. However, Netflix offers its own competing streaming video that may make the customer decline to order Video On Demand from Verizon or even cancel premium channel subscription from Verizon altogether. If Net Neutrality didn't exist, Verizon could reduce the speed with which you stream Netflix or make you pay a subscription fee to use Netflix at high speed.

The ramifications go beyond simply blocking competing content for customers and raking in additional profit. Suppose you want to start a small business that sells a product or service that your Internet Service Provider also sells directly or through a partner company. This means, that the ISP can simply block the Internet Traffic of your business and force you to either not use their service or make you pay a premium in order to allow your content. This naturally forces you, the business owner, to incur additional expense that your ISP, the competitor, does not have to. This is the very definition of monopolistic predatory practice. But without Net Neutrality, this type of action would be considered legal.

Luckily, we still have Net Neutrality and Verizon, Optimum, Comcast, et al; can only salivate at the money they can make by fleecing their customers further. But this protection may soon come to an end. The current FCC commissioner has outlined a plan to get rid of the Net Neutrality protection, with the vote on the FCC panel to commence on December 14th of this year. If this repeal passes, it may not be long until we all are subjected to the aforementioned abuses by our Internet Service Providers.

It is important for all of you, the voters, to call your local Republican Senators and Representatives and let your voices be heard. When you call, make sure to note the names of the three Republican FCC Commissioners: Ajit Pai, Michael O'Rielly, and Brendan Carr. Let your local Senators and Representatives know that if pressure is not placed on these commissioners and Net Neutrality is repealed, they will not have your vote come Mid-Term elections in 2018.

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