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Net neutrality might affect Internet users
January 7, 2018

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Did you know that Netflix accounts for 40 percent of Internet traffic across the United States?

What would you do if your Netflix account slowed down?

"Net neutrality" was one of December's buzzwords when the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, Chairman, Ajit Pai, chose to essentially toss out the net neutrality protections put in place back in 2015.

According to Bill Eckles, president and CEO of the Blue-Earth-based communications company known as Bevcomm, the 2015 net neutrality regulations came about after the then-FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, decided to make some rules and regulations regarding different ISPs, or Internet Service Providers and the way they went about providing their services.

Eckles explains that around the early 2000s, a group known as Vonage became very popular and its customer base was getting blocked by a few choice ISPs.

"No one really talked about it then because this was a new issue. The FCC fined a few companies over blocking or slowing down the Vonage company, but there were no national regulations that said they could or could not do so and, if they could, who they could do it to and how," explains Eckles.

This evolved into net neutrality, or the principle that ISPs must treat all data on the internet the same and not discriminate or charge a customer differently by user, content, website, platform, or other methods of communication.

Fast forward to 2015, when Wheeler took over as chairman. He and his FCC staff decided ISPs were to be categorized into two groups. One group was known as title one companies while other telephone service providers were considered title two.

Under Wheeler's leadership, regulations were put in place to make sure ISPs were truly obeying the rules of net neutrality, or not blocking data after years of the FCC "taking their word" for the actions of ISPs. But, says Eckles, Wheeler basically turned all companies into title two companies, thus making the regulation system quite open to translation.

"There was not really any vast number of abusers with this system. The majority of ISPs followed the laws, and continue to do so," says Eckles. He explains there were only a few specific ISPs that disobeyed these laws.

Fast forward to this past December, when social media platforms all across the Internet were informing their viewers of the importance of net neutrality and the need to protect it. An outcry came from the American people stating they wanted to keep the laws of net neutrality in place.

Without the laws set in place by net neutrality, ISPs would be able to slow down specific social platforms, websites, or web content.

For example, if a football team were to find a specific news website to be unsavory towards their team, without the laws of net neutrality, that owner of the football team would be able to "pay off" the ISP to make sure the news website was either blocked, or loaded its pages at a very discouraging rate.

Eckles says that the current FCC?chairman, Ajit Pai, has, in a nutshell, stated he would rather see these laws be coming from Congress instead of the FCC. This way, the FCC can be backed up when they do regulate the internet by what the law states or requires.

"I don't necessarily think he doesn't want net neutrality, more than he wants the government to back up the decisions the FCC makes on the issue," says the Bevcomm CEO.

Eckles says it comes down to a philosophical perspective of how the Internet can be operated. But one thing is for certain, and Eckles made it very clear.

"Bevcomm has always and will always follow the laws that are put into place regarding your Internet and communication services," says Eckles. "And we are always open about the services we provide."

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