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Net neutrality is over: What does the future hold?

Last December, the FCC approved chairman Ajit Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order, effectively making the decision to repeal the net neutrality rules enacted under former chairman Wheeler in 2015. This became official on Monday, June 11. In this article, I’ll explain why this is bad for internet users in the US and what changes you should expect.

The net neutrality rules required that internet providers treat all traffic equally, so there could be no throttling of certain types of content or prioritized fast lanes for other content. Now that net neutrality is officially over, we aren’t likely to see any immediate change. However, you can be sure ISPs and mobile carriers will take advantage of the new rules over time.

In the past, AT&T and Verizon allowed their own video services to be used on their networks without it counting toward your monthly data consumption, and T-Mobile gave its users unlimited access to certain popular music and video services. While this may seem like you’re getting something for free, it’s actually a step toward a less fair internet, and we can expect this behavior to become more predatory now that net neutrality is gone.

Carriers and cable companies will now be able to give priority to companies they partner with, and slow down traffic for those they don’t. That will make competition less fair for up-and-coming content services on the internet, and it means you might end up being charged more for your favorite services if you want decent speeds.

It will be a while before we start seeing the effects of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, but it’s sure to be a negative thing for consumers. In some areas of the US with limited mobile coverage, competition between carriers simply doesn’t exist, so many will be locked-in to a particular carrier and unprotected without the ability to choose another option. Though these people may be the first group to really feel the pain, in the end, we will all end up paying more and getting less freedom on the web without net neutrality.

Unless Congress passes legislation to make net neutrality permanent, which is unlikely without bipartisan support, there’s little hope for the future beyond the FCC changing the rules every few years with the changing of the political winds.

What do you think the future will be like without net neutrality? Are you worried? Let us know in the comments.


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