General Question

dumbteenth's avatar

Can someone explain net neutrality to me?

Asked by dumbteenth (205points) August 9th, 2010

I don’t get net neutrality and the wikipedia page doesn’t help:

“Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions by Internet Service Providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and no restrictions on the modes of communication allowed”

…Uhh…what? And what’s all this stuff that’s happening with Google and Verizon? Can someone please explain this in layman’s terms? How about just kindergarten terms?

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20 Answers

ETpro's avatar

What it means is that Internet Service Providers would give you their best bandwidth service regardless of what sort of content you wish to download. The fear is that if ISPs get to decide what goes fast and what doesn’t (Non-neutral Net), soon only services they profit from will download at high bandwidth. Try to access anything else on the Internet, and you will suddenly be back to early dial-up speeds so that they can funnel all the advertising and pay-per-click and pay-to-view content to paying customers at lightning speed.

anartist's avatar

The big deal here is service providers giving better speeds and more uploads to big companies than individuals and small businesses. Some dish services routinely do this and “punish” home users if they exceed upload quotas by deliberately slowing down their service still more.

Buttonstc's avatar

@ETpro nailed it.

And if issues about it ever come up for votes, locally or otherwise, just remember this.

Net Neutrality = BEST for us, the consumers. Ignore attempts to persuade you otherwise.

Comcast has run ads along this line and it’s all double speak to make even more boatloads of cash for THEM and screw the consumer.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Perhaps this will help. It’s about the best explanation I’ve found:

When there is an option for greater regulation, I will almost always opt for less. : )

ETpro's avatar

@CaptainHarley So you would vote to make sure the police do nothing to stop people from robing you? Because that is what you are doing when you oppose Net Neutrality. You are voting to make sure the big ISPs like Comcast and Verizon can chole down your bandwidth as they see fit to extract ever more money from you.

jaytkay's avatar

ETPro has it.

Imagine if only Google and ESPN and FOX and CNN and Walmart web sites worked great on your computer. They could pay the extra and get normal download speeds.

But if you try to check out a local restaurant’s site, or your library’s site, everything would crawl, because the big companies get priority.

Without net neutrality, that could be exactly what Internet service becomes.

jerv's avatar

Here is another one that might help explain things.

My opinion is that a lack of Net Neutrality is somewhere between North Korean censorship and handing our country over to CEOs in such a way that renders the US government entirely irrelevant. Those who are against Net Neutrality are either unaware of what they are fighting against or are in a position where they will be one of the ruling elite and thus would benefit from depriving people of their freedom and money.

anartist's avatar

@jerv Net neutrality seems to be being compromised at least—wsj1 and wsj2 and wsj3

jerv's avatar

You can’t compromise something that technically does not exist yet.

ETpro's avatar

@anartist Bear in mind that Rupert Murdoch now owns the Wall Street Journal. His agenda, expressed through all his media outlets, is to steadily move the USA closer to a Corporatocracy with himself as one of the chief owners.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ ETpro… How on earth did you get this: “So you would vote to make sure the police do nothing to stop people from robing you? Because that is what you are doing when you oppose Net Neutrality. You are voting to make sure the big ISPs like Comcast and Verizon can chole down your bandwidth as they see fit to extract ever more money from you.” ...

… out of this? “Perhaps this will help. It’s about the best explanation I’ve found: . When there is an option for greater regulation, I will almost always opt for less. : )”

I think NetNeutraitly is a an abominable idea! I was trying to be even-handed.

filmfann's avatar

First off, I need to remind you all that I work for AT&T. If I don’t, someone will yell about it.
Okay, I work for a company with a stated position, but I also have a lot of work experience around fiber optics (nearly 23 years), and cell site transmission.
Net neutrality is an accepted practice on wired (or fibered) lines. The issue that everyone is screaming about is the lack of net neutrality on a wireless signal.
A wireless signal just can’t pass information like a fiber can. The difference is like a tricycle and an Indy car, and that isn’t hyperbole. Fiber can deliver signals 25,000,000mbs, while wireless can run about 100mbs.
Because of the limited data-delivery speed, some companies (mine included) are controling which data to pass faster than others. If Billy down the street is trying to watch Inception in HD on a wireless device, AT&T might drop his download speed so that everyone else can access Facebook without waiting 5 minutes for it to load. (that is a pretty simplistic example, but magnify it over the population in an urban area).
On it’s face, anti-Net Neutrality seems evil, but it’s really just trying to be reasonable using today’s technology.

ETpro's avatar

@CaptainHarley You have got net neutrality now. That is how the Internet has always worked. The corporations want to take it away from you. If they are not stopped, they WILL take it away. They will decide what gets bandwidth and what doesn’t. What makes the most money will stream across the net at lightning speed, and what doesn’t earn them anything will crawl like early dial-up. Why do you want that?

@filmfann I would like to see wired and fiber networks kept open and free. Given the bandwidth that wireless can currently support, free market control of it makes sense to me. It is extending that control to the entire Internet I am opposing.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’m confused. Let’s put it this way: I am opposed to corporations deciding what information is allowed at faster rates than others. The internet should be available to all without interference.

ETpro's avatar

@CaptainHarley Net Neutrality is about keeping the Internet working like it has up to now, basically the same for any user. The big ISPs want to be able to give bandwidth preference to stuff they can sell, and to do that, they will chole back on bandwidth for anything they can’t sell. They have gotten some PR firms to develop a pitch they can take to America’s conservatives riling them up about Obama trying to control the Internet, but that’s not what the FCC wanted to do in ensuring Net Neutrality.

I would be absolutely opposed to FCC censorship of the Internet. But don’t let the big money boys foll you, that isn’t what Net Neutrality is about.

jerv's avatar

The more I read in this thread, the more misconceptions I see.

@filmfann That is only for wireless with it’s limited bandwidth. The Net Neutrality argument is about the entire internet, not just the wireless portions of it. If you wish to overlook that then you are misunderstanding the entire issue. Shame on you for that oversight.

I also wonder what exactly you meant by “100 mbs” as some count bits and some count bytes, and 802.11n is up to 150 Mbits/sec per stream with up to four streams for a maximum of 600 Mbits/sec, or 75 MB/sec, so what you capitalize really matters if you want anybody who actually knows a bit about this stuff to take you seriously. Could you be a little clearer? I know you actually know a few things; all I’m saying is that you may have mis-typed something there.

@CaptainHarley Agreed! Does that mean that we are both Socialists? Since Net Neutrality deprives ISPs of power and revenue streams, NN is pretty much the opposite if many people’s idea of Capitalism, so it must be Socialism!

filmfann's avatar

Here is a source that repeats the numbers I gave.
The current Net Neutrality issue is with wireless, not wired. Maybe you should read up on this before being critical of others.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Jerv LMAO! I am a Libertarian, neither a Socialist nor a Neo-Con. I advocate maximum practicable liberty regard;ess of WHO is standing in the way. : )

jerv's avatar

@filmfann You are still omitting the freedom issue and making it all about bandwidth. I mean, the real issue is a level playing field and making sure that the ads for the iPhone don’t get preferential treatment on the AT&T network because Apple gave you more money than Fluther. And that doesn’t get into outright censorship.

The wireless may be the only portion that your company is concerned with, but it it not the entire issue.

Still, thank you for clarifying the numbers.

Markyjean's avatar

etpro is good in explaining this., thanks…

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