A Guide to Net Neutrality and Your Website
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve net neutrality. At first most people were excited about it- then they were sad. The concept of net neutrality isn’t a new one, but what does it really mean and what affect (if any) will it have on the Internet—from web hosting companies to internet service providers, and everyone in between?
What is Net Neutrality?
Essentially, net neutrality is the idea that access and availability to the Internet and its content be treated equally. This applies to businesses that provide content, as well as to individuals. Basically, you can have equal access to bandwidth, just as Netflix and YouTube can have equal access to bandwidth, and thus access to bandwidth can’t be throttled at will in favor of another content provider/affiliated service.
Still confused? Here’s a breakdown of the three main goals (according to the FCC ):
- ISPs must be transparent and disclose their policies openly
- ISPs cannot block legal content
- ISPs cannot favor traffic that comes from an affiliated entity
Is This a Good or Bad Thing?
This part is debatable, and really depends on what you see happening. As of yet, it’s hard to say what the unintended implications will be (if any). In theory, some say it’s a good thing, while others say it’s a bad thing. In reality, no one really knows that it will do much of anything.
What About Your Website?
At this point, there is no reason to suspect that net neutrality will have any affect on your web site either directly or indirectly through your web hosting provider. Some are concerned that it could make things slower, but again, you are likely to notice no difference between load and buffer times that you used to see, and the ones that you see now.
In other words:
- Your wireless connection can still be throttled once you hit your data limit. Now, however, your provider must notify you that this is happening.
- You will continue to experience slowness and hiccups during peak times online.
- You won’t automatically see the cost of services increase.
- Your Internet speed will not suddenly increase, but will stay at the rate your current speed plan allows.
In the end, it’s unclear how net neutrality will affect services on the user-end. The FCC’s ruling simply means that it can be regulated as a utility. As CNET points out, net neutrality is really just about preserving the openness of the Internet through establishing set rules so that providers and consumers know what is and is not allowed.