December 2017 / Feature / Walter Proulx

Sad Neutrality

CreditCard-17Not knowing what Net Neutrality is today is like not realizing Game of Thrones is a show: either you intentionally avoid the subject because your friends won’t stop talking about it, or you just went off the grid and are returning from your five-year journey hiking in remote mountains. For the rest of society who occasionally looks at a news outlet before going to whatever source they get their daily dose of memes from, we all are sick and tired of hearing about the repeal of Net Neutrality.

In case there are readers who have somehow missed out on what Net Neutrality is, here is the short version: the way you access your internet allows for all websites and servers to be accessed equally. Comcast can’t openly throttle your connection because you starting to look at streaming services more than their crappy cable channels. Even though Comcast provides you access to the internet, they don’t get to control what you can and can’t see. Take away Net Neutrality and you’ll be taking away the privilege of accessing all parts of the internet. As usual, Net Neutrality is a little more complicated than this basic idea, but this is what really matters to the general public.

By now the name Ajit Pai should sound familiar. Somehow, he became a FCC chairman and he is determined to take down Net Neutrality. One quick Google search will reveal that this chairman is hellbent in repealing Net Neutrality for all the wrong reasons, including a huge trust that corporations will do the right thing and not censor everything that Americans see. Everyone knows this trust doesn’t make sense and it is quite evident that even Ajit Pai doesn’t know how to argue for repealing Net Neutrality. (Find out more about this here.)

One main point Ajit Pai always says is that Net Neutrality puts barriers up making it hard for small businesses to enter the market. He wants to get more competition in, and he’s arguing that this will help encourage others to join the already monopolized service. Giving Ajit Pai the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume he has no idea how the internet works (which is a terrifying thought as he’s chairman of the FCC). In order for a small business to set up a new service so you can ditch whoever is your sole provider, they have to invest insane amounts of money and crawl through multiple hurdles. The first and biggest investment would be to make a couple of routing centers. Assuming you have the money to start up a business and build a couple of buildings (pocket money) then you have to engineer these routing centers and maintain them. Once this is done it is necessary for this company to connect certain neighborhoods to this new service, paying lots of money just to lay down wires to get to their neighborhood. Once you got a couple of neighborhoods connected and you’re a couple million in debt, you can start to pay it off by charging those neighborhoods. While all this is going on it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer to make sure you don’t break any regulations. This is also under the assumption that a team of people actually knows how to set this up without too many costly mistakes.

It is absolutely possible for a small business to accomplish this, but it doesn’t happen very often. Unless there is a town of motivated individuals who want to pay lower rates for internet and everyone can help a small businesses start, this isn’t a very plausible solution. There are places in the United States that could benefit from this, but Ajit Pai has made the sweeping generalization that this is accomplishable in every part of the US. Long story short, Ajit doesn’t care about a huge part of the population that he is screwing over. When some parts of the US have only one or two options for internet service providers, and no sane business will try to enter the market, you’ve created a perfect environment for censorship and hiked up prices.

There are ways to fight back that we have a right to —giving a comment to the FCC is apparently open to anyone, including people not from America. The Verge just reported that many comments are spam, and many more are from Russia. There are many other ways to support Net Neutrality such as protesting or calling up Congress. Believe it or not, thousands of Americans are actively pursuing this problem. You can learn all about it at Help Net Neutrality not become a Sad Neutrality. Make sure Chivomengro isn’t blocked from Comcast. How else will you get all your Horoscopes?