The Internet, Net Neutrality and Your Organization

By on Jun 12, 2014

I was first introduced to the “Internet” in 1989 when I was asked to provide insurance for a new startup company called PSINet. They were one of the early Internet Service Providers and had just moved their operations from upstate New York to Reston, Va. outside Washington, DC. At the time I did not really understand what they did.

It was pioneering companies like PSINet that created the communication infrastructure we rely on today that has transformed how we learn, watch TV and movies, connect with friends and family, and find and purchase just about any product or service we want. The open Internet has been a level playing field that anyone—large companies or small startups—could use to create solutions to problems each of us face.

That level playing field may become history if FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has his way. He is pushing a plan that would allow Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to create a two-tiered Internet, with fast lanes for those who can afford the extra fees. The concern is that start-ups and small businesses (like insurance agencies) would suffer because they would not have the resources to be able to pay for faster access.

Wikipedia defines Net neutrality as “the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.”

A “closed Internet” refers to the opposite situation, in which established corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed Internet may have restricted access to necessary web standards, artificially degrade some services, or explicitly filter out content.

There is lots of information online about this issue. The best I have found is this 13-minute video clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). With a little humor he actually explains the issues quite well. I encourage you to take a look.

I am not a big fan of government regulation. But Internet access has become a monopoly in the U.S. You have very limited choices for your Internet Service Provider. The US ranks number 15 in the world for average broadband speed and the amount we pay for that access.

What can you do?

The FCC has approved a draft of the ruling and public comments received over the coming weeks will factor into what the final rules look like. The commission is even running a particularly long commenting period this time around given the outcry over, and importance of, the proposal.

The initial public comment period will be open until July 27, at which point a second phase of commenting will open up. That second phase will run for 57 days beyond that, until September 10, and is meant to allow the public to reply to comments that the FCC received during the first phase.

You can add your comments to the debate by going to: http://www.fcc.gov/comments

What are you thoughts on this? Speak your mind!

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