Should large companies be able to pay for "fast lanes" on the Internet, or should every website and online service deserve the same access to the Internet regardless of size or power? No matter what side you fall on, it's clear that the issue of net neutrality isn't going away. And, some pretty big players have thrown their weight behind both sides of the argument. In fact, President Barack Obama just released a short video urging the FCC to classify Internet service as a utility to preserve net neutrality.
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The video isn't surprising - the president has been a supporter of net neutrality for a long time now. He wants the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act so that it'll be regulated like your telephone service. He believes this will stop Internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and others from selling fast lanes to companies that can afford it and also keep Internet costs low for most Americans.
But let's back up for a moment: why all the fuss about Title II? The juiciest, most pertinent bit lives in subsection 202, which states that common carriers (in this case, ISPs) wouldn't be able to "make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services."
But, not everyone agrees. Verizon is arguing that classifying the Internet under the outdated Title II would hurt "open Internet, competition and innovation."
Still not clear about net neutrality? Here's an example using your phone company: what if your phone company treated your call differently depending on who you are calling? For instance, dial a big brand name store that paid your phone company for better service and you'd get a fast clear connection. But when you call a local mom and pop store down the street, the call might take forever to connect, and when it finally does, it is scratchy and hard to hear. Over time, which company might you be more likely to do business with? While net neutrality is all about whether or not online services can pay for better Internet connections to their customers, I used the phone company example to illustrate the difference.