You may be confused. It is a day after the FCC voted 3-2 to end net neutrality rules, and the world has not ended. Nor has the internet. Spoiler alert: Ending net neutrality isn’t going to have any effect on your life at all.
By now you’ve seen posts in your Facebook feed from your liberal friends, and even some of your not-liberal friends buying into the notion that net neutrality being gone is going to kill the internet.
The posts that say the evil internet corporations are going to throttle certain websites and are going to say you can only see content they approve of. Some also say removing government regulation will make it hard to create an internet business. None of this is true. None of these apocalyptic things are really going to happen.
What may happen? Yes, you may have to pay more to get video on the internet, because you use more resources. The net neutrality argument is akin to people wanting to pay exactly the same for gas to drive 100 miles, no matter which vehicle you drive. Drive a compact hybrid? Sorry, you’re going to pay the same to drive 100 miles as the guy who drives a Suburban.
You also may pay less if you don’t heavily use video services on the internet. Just like you already do now. Internet providers offer tiers of internet service. You’re already paying a lower amount if you want a lower bandwidth, and a higher amount if you want a higher bandwidth. Under the net neutrality rules, some providers even have data caps.
The internet service I have at home was wholly inadequate for the amount of video content I consume. That’s why I now have gigabit service at home. My internet works faster, video content load faster, and I can do other work while watching videos. I paid more money for that luxury. I will continue to without net neutrality.
Then there is the fact that the market will sort itself out. It always does. Like with airlines, and the beer industry pre-deregulation, more regulation actually means that fewer participants will get offered service. This is because they all have to offer the exact same service based upon what the government says. Regulation always results in fewer choices, and subpar service.
You are already seeing this in the mobile internet industry. T-Mobile (which I use) began offering unlimited data and unlimited video, all at a set price. Then to compete, Verizon, and AT&T, and Sprint, had to start offering unlimited data plans again.
You may remember a year and a half ago, Verizon was trying to kick people off of grandfathered unlimited data plans based on usage. Now they all offer them, because T-Mobile disrupted the space. That’s going to happen with your home internet as well.
Within the next few years, 5G mobile data is going to become a reality across the nation. Beyond that, T-Mobile has already announced that they will be rolling out “Gigabit Class LTE.” That’s right, never mind needing a fiber optic cable to your home, you’ll be able to get gigabit service over the air.
With multiple carriers offering that service, and customers pushing to remove data caps for service, competition will bring better service. The market always does.
As LeVar Burton would say, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”
In response to the end of net neutrality, Motherboard and Vice – unironically – announced that they are going to start a project to “build a community network based at our Brooklyn headquarters that will provide internet connections for our neighborhood.” In other words, as a company they are going to offer a product they think consumers will want, at a price consumers are willing to pay. That sounds an awful lot like free market capitalism.
Don’t be afraid of a post-net neutrality internet. That’s what existed for most of its history. The history that saw the rise of Google, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a host of other disruptors. Just like before 2015, when the net neutrality regulatory scheme began, the free market will solve any issues that arise. It always does.
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Robert Eno is the editor of the WTF MSM!? newsletter and director of retention for Blaze Media.