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Net neutrality
Net neutrality (Image: Forbes)

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality, or open internet, is the equality principle that your internet service provider should treat all your legal traffic in the same way. It means that your internet traffic and applications should be served to you on an unbiased basis. It restricts the internet service providers (ISPs) from charging the content providers for speedier delivery of web pages and contents to you on “fast lanes.” This is the definition of an open internet.

Net neutrality is also known called network neutrality, net equality, internet neutrality, or open internet. The term net neutrality was first used in 2003 by the Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu.

What does it really mean? Difference between ISP and content provider?

Net neutrality supporters emphasis on the fact that your broadband Internet service provider shouldn’t be able to charge the content providers for a faster delivery of their content to you. Here ISPs are Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, AT&T, Charter etc and they provide you internet access. The content providers include companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube etc. that make content and ISPs serve you their content. For example: If Netflix pays extra money to Time Warner, you will be getting a biased internet access which is against the ideology of open internet.

Also, ISPs shouldn’t be able to charge you extra for accessing certain services. ISPs have been dragged in the court of law for thrusting or limiting internet speed for customers who use peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent.

net neutrality
Net Neutrality (Image: USA Today)

What is all this fuss about?

Back in January 2014, ISP Verizon challenged some regulations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC), based in Washington, D.C. A federal court ruled that FCC has overstepped its boundaries. It said that FCC could impose new laws and since then FCC has been signaling that in its new guidelines, it could allow ISPs to charge extra from content providers in lieu if the fast lanes.

The net neutrality supporters wanted FCC to once again put the “common carriers” tag on ISPs which will again put them under government’s eye and they will be forced to provide the content without any discrimination.

Also read:  Top 5 Tech Careers To Pursue In 2015

Any recent instances of fast lanes and biased internet?

Recently the video streaming website Netflix signed agreements with Verizon and Comcast to increase the quality and speed of their videos. The net neutrality supporters say that smaller players can’t afford this paid prioritizing and it will positively push the monopoly of certain market leaders like Facebook, YouTube, Google, Netflix, Twitter, Amazon etc.

Are there any opponents of net neutrality?

The chief argument against net neutrality is: Industry leaders like Netflix consume a humongous amount of internet bandwidth and ISPs should be allowed to collect fees from them for maintaining their infrastructure and upgrading it.


 Do you support open and unbiased internet? Tell us in comments!
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Adarsh Verma
Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]