People using the internet also think that they are absolutely free to watch online videos, send instant messages and listen to podcasts and songs as and when required. Net neutrality is the one and the only concept that makes all these assumptions a reality.
When people log on to the internet, they take several things for granted. People are of the view that they can browse almost any website on the internet as per their wish. They also assume that they can browse anything and everything at any time and as many times as they want, all this at the fastest speed.
The Net Neutrality Principle
Internet service providers or telecom operators serve as access service companies. They have the power to control the amount of information that people can access, the content or the quality of information they can access and the speed at which they can access information.
Apart from this, the ISPs also have the power to control the amount that people pay for accessing services and content of the internet. As per the net neutrality principle, Telcos and ISPs need to treat all content or information on the internet equally.
They must offer their consumers equal access to almost all the lawful services and website online. They should do all this without giving any priority to a particular service or website. This probably means that net neutrality involves:
- No telecom-style licensing of the internet companies
- All sites are equally accessible
- No speed generations for specific sites and services
- No practice of making sites free or zero-rated over the other sites.
The Reason behind Debates and a Sudden Buzz regarding Net Neutrality
There are several reasons behind the sudden buzz and the major debates surrounding net neutrality. The reasons are as follows:
- The telecommunication companies and internet service providers have lobbied in and are making efforts towards bringing regulations into the use of the internet while putting the freedom of privacy and choice of the users at stake.
- If net neutrality is not put in place, the ISPs will have the power to decide on the applications and the websites that shall be accessible to the users and the amount that the users would have to pay for accessing the applications and the websites.
- In the absence of net neutrality, website owners and application publishers will have to make payments to all the ISPs for making their websites or applications visible to the users on their network.
One of the main reasons behind the great success of the internet has been that people have usually been able to use the internet as per their wish.
The ease of use of the internet is necessary for accessing services, free speech, and knowledge. It is also necessary for doing online business.
ISPs can choose the losers and the winners and even limit the best access in the online market for ideas and services. Net neutrality comes as a major step towards making the internet accessible to every individual.