Think of driving down California’s Highway 1 or Highway 17 with a slight twist. You have been assigned one lane that you can stay in for your entire drive. You’re in your one lane, the lane you’re allowed to be in, and you’re not moving very quickly. There’s flashing brake lights behind you, flashing brake lights ahead of you. You give a sigh, and think, well, at least everyone’s in it together.
But then you notice there seems to be a special lane. They aren’t moving along slowly; they’re zooming past you without even a second glance. They’ve received a special pass for this special lane thanks to their handing over a huge wad of cash. If you want to join that fast lane, you have to empty your pockets just to have a chance to keep up. You sit there in your lane thinking, well, that doesn’t quite seem to make sense. Why don’t we all get access to all the lanes? Why do I have to be stuck over here?
This is, essentially and simplistically, the issue of net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has presented a proposal that allow broadband companies to charge more for faster internet. This would mean that for those who can’t pay for it (think small businesses, schools, start-ups, anyone who’s not a big, international, billion dollar company) would have slower internet service. If you can’t pay for the fast lane, your website will take longer to navigate, vidoes and photos won’t load as quickly, and it will take longer for your customers and clients to get information.
Websites wouldn’t be allowed to be blocked by broadband companies, but some could get priority service. Currently, the FCC has asked for public comments, and for the next few months, before they settle on a final ruling, they are asking for comments. If you want to make a comment, you can go here to make your voice heard.