Internet Technology Explained

Net Neutrality Explained: This Is What’s Going to Happen to the Internet

Ben Stegner 30-11-2017

Net neutrality, the principle that protects the free and open internet as we know it today, is under serious attack How the Web Won on Net Neutrality: 5 Key Moments It does looks like net neutrality will reign, at least for a while. Let's take a look back at some of the most important moments in this battle. Read More .


We’ll get right to the point: net neutrality is not a partisan issue, and we don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum. The repeal of net neutrality will affect you as an internet user. Here’s what you need to know about this vital fight for the open web.

What Is Net Neutrality?

In case this is your first time hearing about net neutrality Net Neutrality, As Explained By YouTube’s Geniuses Are you still not sure what Net Neutrality actually is? Don’t feel dumb: it’s a nuanced concept. So, we tracked down videos from some of the smartest people on the Web. Read More , let’s quickly review what it means What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care? A significant number see Net Neutrality as essential to the survival of the Internet. In this article, we're going to look at why Net Neutrality matters, and why we should fight to protect it. Read More :

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all internet traffic equally, regardless of its content.

This is how the internet currently works. When you jump online, it doesn’t matter if you visit MakeUseOf, Google, your friend’s blog, or watch some videos on YouTube 20 YouTube Videos Guaranteed to Make You Question Everything If you've been looking for something a bit more intellectually stimulating than lifestyle vloggers, MakeUseOf is here to help. Here are 20 YouTube videos guaranteed to broaden your mind. Read More — they all work the same way. Your ISP cannot check your network packets to see what sites you’re visiting and decide to slow your browsing down because it doesn’t like what you’re doing.

Without net neutrality, ISPs could block content they didn’t agree with, prioritize certain sites over others, and force websites to pay up for the privilege of being fast.


The Current United States Net Neutrality Law

In June 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in favor of net neutrality. It did so by reclassifying broadband as a “common carrier” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Essentially, this places ISPs under regulation like airlines and phone companies are.

Until 2015, net neutrality was hotly debated among ISPs, their users, and the U.S. government. In the early days of the internet, ISPs provided internet access through dial-up service Types of Internet Access Technologies, Explained What kind of internet access do you have? Broadband? Satellite? Fiber? Here's our breakdown of internet connection types. Read More via phone companies’ lines. Since phone companies were already bound to Title II, they couldn’t mess with your connection. And back then, there were lots of ISPs in the game, like AOL, Earthlink, and NetZero. So if yours tried anything shady, you could simply switch to another provider.

Fast-forward to modern times, and high-speed connections are vital for streaming video, playing online video games, and more. Only a few major ISPs are in play now. Chances are that you subscribe to Comcast, Verizon, or Spectrum/Charter Communications for internet service. But the problem with that is…

ISPs Have Shown How They Feel About Net Neutrality

The reason that the FCC moved to reclassify broadband under Title II was due to ISPs abusing their power. FreePress has gathered a great sampling of offenses; among the worst:


All these instances would be illegal under current net neutrality rules. It’s even arguable that mobile carriers have used data cap exemptions to get around net neutrality Why Data Cap Exemptions Are More Harmful Than You Think At first glance, it's nice that T-Mobile lets you stream unlimited Netflix without counting towards your data cap, right? But this practice might be more bad than good. Read More through a back door.

Do you see why net neutrality is so important? History is a good predictor of the future.

A Future Without Net Neutrality

It’s not hard to take the above examples and expand on them to see what could happen to an internet without net neutrality. You’ve probably seen this image floating around, mocking up the “package deals” ISPs could offer without net neutrality in place:

how net neutrality repeal is going to change the internet


While this is a bit far-fetched, think on a smaller scale. After all, ISPs love vague wording, and they won’t dive all-in with their newfound power. They’ll test the waters and see how far they can go, bit by bit.

For instance, Comcast owns NBC. It would rather you watch NBC shows on its streaming service than use Hulu or Netflix. Without net neutrality, what’s to stop Comcast from slowing down access to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and similar Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? It has been years since we've compared heavy-hitting streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And with changes in pricing, content, quality, and interface, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Read More and prioritize their own services?

They could hold Netflix hostage for millions of dollars to escape the “slow lane”, resulting in Netflix having to pass that cost onto you. You’re already paying for internet service and a Netflix subscription — now you’ll have to cover for Comcast’s greed too.

Also consider the flow of information. Verizon owns HuffPost and Yahoo, via the subsidiary Oath. What happens if it doesn’t want you to look at other news sites? Would you put up with absurdly slow speeds or outright blocking of news content that Verizon didn’t agree with?


An Open Internet Is Essential

What makes the internet so special is that it’s free and open to anyone. Think about people who earn their living These YouTubers Are Earning Millions: What's Their Secret? Here is a list of the biggest channels on YouTube and how they got to be so popular. Who know, perhaps you'll learn the secret to making it big on YouTube. Read More , and companies who have created new methods of interaction, in ways that simply were not possible 20 or even 10 years ago:

All these people, services, and pages organically gained a following despite tons of competition online. What would happen to all the above if Comcast and friends had been able to filter out websites they didn’t want you to access? What if they didn’t like how your favorite YouTube channels posed a threat to their news, so they blocked them?

You’re an entrepreneur and want to design a better alternative to a product that Verizon has a stake in? Too bad. Verizon will silence your potential threat to its income just like it blocked Google Wallet. How can we expect someone just starting out to build an audience and have success when they don’t have the money to pay ISPs to get in the fast lane?

So when you see ads over the next few weeks from the ISPs with outright lies Will ISPs Help Protect Net Neutrality? Spoiler Alert: No There are claims that net neutrality could soon be taking a big hit in the United States. Is this true? What's going to happen to net neutrality? Are ISPs on our side or not? Read More like this one, remember that actions speak far louder than words.

In fact, Comcast has already quietly dropped its statement about not allowing paid priority on its networks. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to repeal net neutrality, and you’d better believe that they intend to use it.

The FCC’s Vote

On December 14th, the five FCC leaders will vote on whether to repeal net neutrality. The chairman, Ajit Pai, has spearheaded this campaign for repeal. What you might not know is that Pai was once a lawyer for Verizon. As we’ve established above, Verizon is licking its chops at the thought of net neutrality dissolving. He certainly doesn’t have the interest of the public in mind, who vastly support keeping net neutrality.

If net neutrality goes away, the new proposed rules would only require ISPs to “be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them . . .” In other words, they’ll bury all the new ways they’re going to screw you over in the Terms and Conditions that nobody reads anyway 5 Ways to Find What's in Those Terms of Service These five websites and tools help you understand the terms and conditions and privacy policies of websites. They are too long too read, but your online rights depend on them. Read More .

Experts expect the repeal to pass with a 3-2 vote.

What Can You Do?

Your best action to keep net neutrality in place is contacting your elected officials. They (in theory) represent you, after all, so you need to let them know how you feel. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created an easy-to-use tool The Free Internet Needs 2 Minutes of Your Help Right Now Net neutrality in the USA is under attack again. The FCC will vote to repeal net neutrality rules on December 14. Here's how you can help keep net neutrality a reality. Read More that lets you send a letter to your members of Congress.

If you can call your representatives, governor, and other elected officials, do so. Let them know that you support keeping the internet free and open, and don’t want to place its future in the hands of companies who are ready to abuse it. Visit BattleForTheNet for more info on how to get involved.

Politics Not Required

Before we summarize and close, it’s worth mentioning why we don’t think this is a political issue.

Some people think that net neutrality is something Democrats support and Republicans do not. Even though Barack Obama was in office when net neutrality was put into place, its roots exist farther back than that. While some might believe that classifying broadband as a Title II service wasn’t the way to go about preserving net neutrality, that’s not the argument here.

The classification does not give the government the right to meddle in the internet (the way that repealing net neutrality will give ISPs the ability to do just that). It allows the government to enforce regulations if ISPs act out of line. Conservatives and liberals alike should happily support about net neutrality. You can visit websites that cater to your views instead of being stuck with what your ISP wants you to see.

The Internet Is at Stake

Regardless, net neutrality is the current law, and right now it’s facing a repeal. Repealing it would only benefit ISPs, not the consumer. Cable companies consistently rank as some of the most hated companies in America, yet people can’t leave if they want internet access. This is because in many areas, one ISP has a monopoly.

You won’t have another choice if Comcast starts forcing you to pay more for sites you want to visit. Everybody hates how cable companies make you pay an exorbitant amount of money for channels you don’t care about, leading to many cutting out cable Cut That Cord! How to Ditch Cable If you've read about the cord-cutting phenomenon but aren't sure where to start, this is a guide to cutting the cord and ditching cable TV for good... Read More .

Why would you want that same problem with the internet?

If there’s any question, companies that support net neutrality include Kickstarter, Twitter, Reddit, Mozilla, GitHub, DeviantArt, Discord, DuckDuckGo, Dropbox, Etsy, and OkCupid. Companies against it include Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Hmm…

In summary, we’ve seen what net neutrality protects and why these companies want to repeal it. In the past, they’ve acted to block apps and services from devices that you paid for because they don’t want you to use them. This is ludicrous. If they’d block Skype to make more money, what’s to stop them from blocking entire websites?

Removing net neutrality will allow ISPs to become gatekeepers that can control and manipulate what people access on the internet. That is absolutely terrifying.

Did this make it clear how important net neutrality is? How will you fight to keep the internet open? Tell us your thoughts and discuss in the comments, and make sure to share this article so everyone is informed!

Related topics: Internet Censorship, ISP, Net Neutrality.

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  1. Guest
    December 9, 2017 at 10:18 am

    The internet is not changing haha.. only the way americans access the internet :-)

  2. bill
    December 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    THEY ARE GOING TO DO IT, so what is the plan to fight it after the fact?

    By 2020 the USA will be the next China, struggling against the current China for domination that was lost becoming "great" again.
    I guess I can see how countries have become dictatorships. No one wants to do anything. Let's leave everything to the rich.
    What a sad picture.........................

  3. Oswaldo Bellido
    December 8, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    This is a world-wide issue. Internet access is a public service, much like water, gas & power. And, radio & TV broadcast signals. The main difference is that it has a much broader scope, beyond borders, and I'm convinced any government decision in the USA regarding net neutrality will affect users even in my own country. How can we help?

  4. Eddie G.
    December 8, 2017 at 5:15 am

    There's only ONE way that the consumer will be able to override even Ajit Pai's ruling. The ONE thing that ALL companies, governments and corporate entities understand. Finances. If We The People....REALLY wanted to KILL this repeal act? we would do the ONE thing they'd NEVER expect....stop paying for their services. Period.
    It would be painful. It would be VERY painful. To have to use the Postal Services once again. To have to actually DRIVE to the bank to handle your finances, to have to call your order in and then go pick it up or wait for the delivery guy without ordering online. It would be almost tantamount to The Apocalypse. But I can guarantee I PROMISE you!...that you wouldn't even have to wait a full business quarter, once the Internet providers hear they've lost even just a little bit of revenue from lack of sales due to no customers buying?...I bet they'd switch back to the "old" way of doing things in a quick hurry. SO the question isn't whether or not it will doesn't matter if its the government of the private companies that rule....the one question you have to ask yourself is: Are YOU willing to do what NEEDS to be done in order to have this go away for good?

  5. Mike
    December 7, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Any regulating should be done by the market, not by the corruptable (and corrupt!) Uncle Sugar. You don't let Comcast get so large in the first place so that if it wants to further crapify its product, it does so at its own financial peril.

    'Net Neutrality' is double-speak for restrictions on free speech. Not 'No' but 'Hell No!'

  6. John Smith
    December 3, 2017 at 5:52 am

    "Net Neutrality Isn’t a Partisan Issue"
    Then the entire article is nothing but partisan talking points, including links to known leftist comedians who have 0, I repeat 0 clue about this.

    Yes, it is a partisan issue.
    The Internet was working for over damn 30 years if not more before Obama deiced to "fix" it in 2015. No, there is no preferential treatment, and the Internet is more than just ISPs that such articles try to fool you.
    We work in the industry and most of those who are violently advocating for more government regulation are not.
    It is nothing more than just giving more power to the government to decide what is fair and what is not.
    End of the story.
    So go ahead, spread more nonsense and partisan talking points.

  7. Slartibartfast
    December 1, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Net Neutrality does cross political lines. I'm a committed conservative and I've been all-in for NN since the argument first began. I'm not American, but if I was I would vote Republican over Democrat every time. Even so I'm actually angered by the Republican leadership over this issue. The correct path seems to obvious to me and they just don't get it.

    • kevdev
      December 7, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      You are not a conservative. Conservatives are against bigger government. NN is for bigger government. Nice try.

  8. Michael Wood
    December 1, 2017 at 3:00 am

    It is the ISPs that spend the money for the pipelines...dumb or not. It is google and facebook that make the huge amount of money off of Net Neutrality as their business model of advertising gets through with no restriction and the ISPs cannot do the same. If I am not mistaken, the very LARGE tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and others want Net Neutrality collaborated to create the Net Neutrality regulations and I think Google actually wrote the regulations - or at least served in a senior advisory role. The internet exploded by using the Clinton "light touch" doctrine. Small ISPs are vanishing and massive tech companies are becoming monopolies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.). Of course they do not want the ISPs to emulate their advertising business model not do they want anything that will slow down their business model. I would pay a premium to block any advertising - and right now that is not an option. Many of you out there would agree. I would prefer privacy and free market competition over restriction and privacy threats. I use google services only when absolutely necessary because of this. If removing Net Neutrality gives me the option of paying a premium to end, or at least restrict, the annoyances that target me because of someone's business model which makes me the product and not the consumer, than I hope it happens. And the argument that the ISPs could block speech they do not like is a straw man when you consider that Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter already do that. Do I want Facebook or Google algorithms telling me what is real news and what is not? No. I can go to various news sources and make that determination myself. I do not need high paid programmers sitting in offices in multi-billion dollar campuses in northern California whose opinions are unknown to me determining what is or is not - or writing code that tells me what is or is not true.

  9. Howard Pearce
    November 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Internet communication neutrality is just as much a disgusting idea as oral communication neutrality (speech) or printed communication neutrality (press).

    All are based upon the idea of the stat having a right to control and regulate communication between people/citizens. That's why it is enforced by the FCC - what I call Federal Communication Control department

    Historically it isn't that different from the concept of The Fairness Doctrine which SCOTUS ruled as unconstitutional.

    People unable to support freedom of communication beyond speech and press are surely allowing technology to strip us of our civil rights simply because the media is new or different.

  10. Chuck K.
    November 30, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    There is no such thing as Net Neutrality? The bottom line is that virtually every tech site and its minions are trying to scare by invoking GOVERNMENT regulation as a good thing. They also believe that it should be available to ALL people at what amounts to a low cost. The techies don't want to pay more? You won't get it? The speed will be throttled? No, you will pay MORE for things. In other words, if a family can get by on 100 mb/s speed they pay a low cost. If some yuppie techie wants to have 100 Gb/s speed then they pay more. Tiering will be back and people will have MORE selection. Right now, I have to pay for Comcast's triple play with things I don't need. When NOT regulated it grew, regulate it, it fails.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 30, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      As someone who is almost always against more regulation, I understand your sentiment but this is different.

      First, the scenario you're pointing out is not what net neutrality concerns. Paying for a faster internet connection speed is something you can do at the current time and that's totally fine.

      Net neutrality is the idea that ISPs must treat all traffic on the internet equally. That doesn't mean everyone should have access to the internet at more cost, or that everyone should access the web at the same speed. What it means is that Comcast can't decide how fast your browsing speed is based on what websites you're visiting.

      And these ISPs have shown that if they have that power, they're going to use it.

      • Chuck K.
        November 30, 2017 at 4:38 pm

        So what you are saying is that Government regulation is good because the people have no say or options against the companies that "may" do access denied or throttle speeds? Where were the people when cable companies got into their own programming? Doesn't Comcast own a TV Network? lol Instead of complaining about the companies with the biggest shares of the market getting into their own programming thus enabling the environment you talk about... Maybe they should have not been allowed to do it? If they were a true third party provider of TV and INTERNET?The INTERNET thrived unregulated for years, why? Because Government was NOT involved. That tier thing is accurate on my part as far as cable companies running the show. I just don't buy it that techies want regulation when politicians said they were going to regulate (over the years). Something in your story doesn't add up. Fear mongering before anything happens? Then too, IF it doesn't happen? Tell me how innovation happens when it's run by government and polticians?

    • Chris Pratt
      November 30, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      This is the same straw man argument Pai is trying to shovel. This is not an issue of regulation. ISPs are dumb pipes, just like traditional phone lines, electricity, gas, water etc. No one has a problem regulating that electricity must be provided equally to all, or that your drinking water must be clean of contaminates. It's exactly the same here. Title II is not in any way burdensome. It's sets only base, common sense regulations on manipulating carriage of service.

  11. dragonmouth
    November 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Net Neutrality is a United States problem. AFAIK, the rest of the world has no Net Neutrality laws.

    Let's face it, ISPs have much deeper pockets than the users so they can buy legislators as if they were toilet tissue. The users can jump up and down, stamp their feet, throw hissy fits and it will not make one bit of difference. The ISPs and the legislators/regulators understand only one thing - MONEY. Affect their wallets and they will do anything for you.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 30, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      Yes, it is really a shame. Nearly everyone who uses the internet and makes it the amazing thing that it is don't want to repeal NN, but the ISPs do and so it keeps cropping up.

    • BART
      December 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      India and Egypt have net neutrality laws and they are responsible for shutting down free Internet access.

      • dragonmouth
        December 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm

        Are the words "net neutrality" anywhere in the law? Doesn't sound like those laws are really about neutrality.