What would happen if net neutrality ends?

I recently discovered that there are still radios for sale. I assume that people aged 60+ are more likely to say “Yey” to radios. Generation Y and Z find such devices just as unattractive as phone books and I'm not talking about the one on your smartphone here. Seriously: who still uses this fat ham?

When my generation wants to listen to the radio again instead of podcasts, we usually do it online. Just like listening to analog radio, all stations are broadcast equally well or equally badly on the Internet. We have that Net neutrality Thanks to.

What is net neutrality?

Regardless of the sender, recipient, location, content, service and application, all data streams through a network must be treated equally. Net neutrality therefore means that Internet providers treat all data equally and have to transmit it equally quickly or slowly. Data that are transmitted through the Internet must therefore not be discriminated against. Using the radio as an example, complete net neutrality would mean that all stations transmit at the same speed and no station is preferred or disadvantaged. If the transmission speed is throttled for transmitter A, this must also be done for transmitter B to the same extent.

It does not matter whether it is a small regional broadcaster or a public broadcaster. According to European law, the provider must ensure that the Data from all senders transmitted equally and no broadcaster is favored or disadvantaged. The internet provider provides the infrastructure, the cables or the WiFi network. All market participants must be able to use these, regardless of their size or the type of content, without any differences in quality.

What would happen if there was no net neutrality?

Imagine three streets with trucks loaded with radios driving. You need to get these radios to the consumer as soon as possible. However, one street is only reserved for trucks with radios of the "Radios4life" brand. Everyone else has to jostle on the two remaining lanes. There is a traffic jam and of course the trucks are making slow progress accordingly. Soon “Radios4life” would sell many more radios than any other radio provider. In this example, neutrality would not be guaranteed because the road network is not equally accessible for everyone.

If a provider were authorized to transmit the data from one online newspaper, for example, much faster than the data from another online newspaper, the slower newspaper would lose readers in the long term. As a result, the opinions expressed there would have less weight in public discussions. The fewer visits this newspaper has, the more it loses its influence. In the absence of net neutrality, providers would be able to to influence public opinion in their favor.

Goodbye neutrality in the USA

Net neutrality was abolished in the USA two years ago. Network operators are now allowed to receive data from certain services to transfer faster against payment. After all, the providers must publish whether they allow some services to transfer data faster. Critics fear that large providers such as newspapers, streaming platforms and TV stations will continue to grow by buying faster data transmission. New and alternative media platforms would hardly have a chance this way.

But this could also be a disadvantage for users. It is not unlikely that the larger providers will pay for the preferential treatment well and these costs through Price increases to userspass on.

Also, it's important to remember that there is only one broadband provider in some of the more remote areas of the United States. Any preference or disadvantage for certain services affects everyone and cannot be circumvented by choosing a different broadband provider. In addition, some broadband providers also offer Internet services and may prefer their own services in the future.

How is it in Europe?

Unfortunately, there are already examples in Europe where the principle of net neutrality has been compromised. Certain telecommunications providers offer a so-called “zero rating” for services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix in the mobile sector. The use of these services is not deducted from the data volume of the users, while the use of other smaller video platforms reduces the data volume of the users. This not only creates economic disadvantages for the providers who are not included in this free data volume, but also affects the diversity of opinion.

Your opinion

Is net neutrality important to you? Or would you pay providers more if they broadcast certain websites, radio or television stations, etc. faster? Also very important: do you still have a radio? And do you seriously use a phone book?


Copyright © pictures: Unsplash
https://www.rtr.at/de/tk/Netzneutralitaet (accessed on June 23, 2019)
https://www.polyas.de/wahllexikon/netzneutralitaet (accessed on June 23, 2019)
https://www.einfache-internetseiten.de/netzneutralitaet-erklaert/ (accessed on June 23, 2019)