While many internet users in the U.S. bemoan the recent invalidation of the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations, some users are already beginning to get a sense for what the future of a net neutrality-less world will look like: Netflix has been engaged in disputes with ISPs — Verizon in particular — over how much content the broadband carriers should supply to users before requiring further fees. As a result of this argument between carrier and content provider, neither is remedying the increased pressure on the web infrastructure needed to deliver the growing amount of content to the U.S.’s video streaming subscribers. Thus, The Wall Street Journal reported that Netflix users experienced an average of 14% slower speeds over the last two months.
VISUAL CONTEXT: HOW NETFLIX VIEWS ITS COMPETITION
The timing is considered a boon for proponents of net neutrality, as this network slow-down appears as very real result of lack of regulation over whether ISPs or content providers are responsible for network traffic.
Those in Verizon’s court argue that the broadband provider should be allowed to require payment to carry certain loads of data across its network it has spent its own time and money building out its infrastructure.
Theoretically, if Verizon chose to charge customers more for certain data loads, customers would have the choice to defect from Verizon’s network and move to a carrier that does not impose the same fees, but the fear lies in the possibility that all broadband carriers begin to charge similar fees. And further fear lies in the possibility that Netflix ups its fees because of the new charges put upon it by carriers.
While Netflix’s slow-down cannot be entirely blamed on Verizon since the video streaming company deals with many other carriers, the stalemated argument between the two companies has served to rattle the public enough to further aggravate the debate on net neutrality. Many are in favor of the FCC declaring the internet a public utility — something that would have other, bigger ramifications for the internet as it exists in a regulatory sense within the U.S., but one that would align it more closely with telephone service. The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler has stated that the Commission certainly will respond to the debate as it stands, but with revised regulations that will hopefully serve up a compromise.