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What’s the reality of net neutrality?

Net neutrality, in its most basic definition, is a set of a rules put into place by the Obama administration back in the 2015 Open Internet Order. These rules are upheld by the Federal Communication Commission and regulate web traffic and equal consumer platforms all over the internet.

However, last November current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put a repeal into action for these rules. On Dec. 14 the commission adopted the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” to repeal the previous net neutrality rules. And at long last, the effects of this vote, which has since sat on the back-burner of the mind of the American people, will finally be felt in late April.

The 538-paged order states clearly that it is intended to be “a free and open Internet by rejecting government control of the internet.” This idea counteracts the previous set of rules, from former chair Tom Wheeler, as stated in the document.

According to the FCC’s repealing order, this ‘free’ Internet looks like unregulated Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) potential access to website speed, quality and content. The New York Times says that both Pai and the Trump administration believe that this decision will lead to innovation and economic stimulation.

ISP’s are everywhere; they are companies like COX, Time Warner Cable or Comcast. Their business is to sell people internet provision, and likely they will be the most affected by the changes in April.

To better explain how ISP’s directly interact with internet users, it is possible to look at the situations through flights.

Let’s say that someone is trying to watch Netflix. The process is extensive, but happens in a few seconds. A user types in the IP address for Netflix (Netflix.com) and sends it their own Internet provider (COX), that provider sends their request to Netflix who sends it to their own internet provider (AT&T). AT&T sends the real IP address (Netflix.com/friendsep4se7) back to the original users ISP (COX), and then back to the individual’s computer so that they can watch their show.

Now in flights: A person is flying to Tulsa (their laptop) to Dallas, an international airport (their internet provider). From there they have a lay over in Chicago (Netflix) before reaching their final destination in Los Angeles (Netflix’s internet provider). After their trip, they fly back, straight to Dallas (the person’s internet provider) and then home to Tulsa (their laptop).

Needless to say, ISP’s have a lot to do with how much Internet any person is allowed to access at one time.  Without net neutrality, their actions will change how users interact with the Internet.

How exactly the U.S. will operate without these rules is yet to be seen. With a variety of advocacy and protest groups against the measure, the order is set to dismantle the current Net Neutrality rules on April 23, 2018.