Imagine if you will-
An internet where sites load at different speeds solely based off of the deepness of their owner’s pockets; The bigger companies don’t have to worry about competition from smaller independent outlets or start-ups as much anymore because their sites load faster and they know that if there’s anything consumers hate- it’s waiting. The bigger company’s site goes up faster on browsers all across the country and it’s all thanks to big business’ pacts with Internet service providers that this dream comes true.
While this may just sound like the free market at work, the implications are much more sinister and tedious than it sounds. Here are some different examples of real-world implications that a closed net would have on your daily life:
- Start-ups across the web would now suffer longer load times; consumers no longer have the same amount of patience as before and are less likely to wait to hear from unknown sources – the next big app or website never gets noticed.
Newbie sites and start-ups now have to increase their amount of investors in order to allocate more funding to their connectivity rate. This issue combined with the amount of capital needed to produce their service and to distribute it to consumers halts the progress of their product or site from becoming well-known.
The price of web-services like Netflix increase due to the new payments needed to maintain streaming quality and connectivity speed: If Netflix refuses to pay- load times for movies get longer, the streaming becomes more pixelated, and either way, Netflix loses customers through increased prices or decreased quality of service
- Companies big and small cut their workforces in order to make up for the newfound cost of connecting to consumers faster, people of different industries across the nation lose their jobs as a result of calculated costs
- Independent blogs and news outlets across the net drop in web traffic due to their lack of funding for load times, eventually they have to either make up for this cost in increased advertising (which could jeopardize their reporting) , or lose their audience to a faster-loading site. Readers also wait longer to receive what could very well be breaking news.
All of these instances and much, much more become possible with a closed-net.
The current way our internet runs is through Net neutrality; this system preserves the equal treatment of data connectivity across the net because no transfer of information from the site to the provider is treated with priority over another, which is why a site like http://www.i-love-cats.com/ will load just as fast as whitehouse.gov.
What has been proposed by Verizon to the Federal Communications Commission (The agency in charge of regulating all interstate and international communication) is that internet service providers should reserve the right to provide preferential treatment or “pathways” to companies that are willing to pay more for connectivity to their services.
The Internet slowdown has emerged as an across-the-net protest against the idea that internet service providers should provide preferential treatment to sites that are willing to pay for pathways. Many of the opponents of these pathways believe that their installations will inherently lead to slower loading times across the board for sites who aren’t willing to pay up. As one of the biggest supporters of the internet slowdown, battleforthenet, puts it- “they’re [Cable Companies] attacking the Internet–their one competitor and our only refuge–with plans to charge websites arbitrary fees and slow (to a crawl) any sites that won’t pay up.”
Sites all across the net are participating in the slowdown by displaying an emblem of a loading signal infinitely looping to remind users of their potential wait for content should the FCC approve Verizon’s suggestion.
So far sites like Youtube, Reddit, Netflix, and Upworthy have displayed their loops of dishonor, with many more among their ranks, battleforthenet even has installable widgets for site-owners to call attention to the Internet Slowdown.
Another way they’re calling attention to the issue is by including widgets on their site that automatically comments and connects users to the FCC’s comment portal, or a petition form against Verizon’s plan.
The FCC is still accepting comments on proposed actions for maintaining an open web after the first attempt in July led to their web form crashing. If you have anything to contribute to the idea of the open net, The FCC requests that you send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, they’ll continue to take comments until September 15th so speak now or forever live by dial-up.