broadbandA recent decision by an appeals court in Washington to chuck out net neutrality rules could have dire consequences for everyone using the Internet. Including those who both deliver and consume online video.

Net Neutrality Nullified

This week saw the FCC’s net neutrality rules labelled as “invalid. Net neutrality is essentially the idea that all traffic online should be treated the same, regardless of who or where it came from and who or where it’s going to.

The loss of net neutrality could lead to deals being cut behind closed deals that would ensure content from some companies was given priority over others. Those willing to pay the broadband providers for the privilege would have an advantage over those unwilling or unable to do so.

Who Could Be Affected?

In a nutshell, everybody in the U.S. could be affected by this, and possibly elsewhere in the world too if the idea of net neutrality dies completely.

Consumers will win in terms of gaining access to higher quality content, and all paid for by someone else. But they’ll lose because the choice will ultimately be taken out of the hands of consumers and placed in the hands of the companies willing to pay (and the companies making them pay) for prioritization.

Established names such as Google and Netflix may have to start contributing to the coffers of the networks delivering their contents, but they can likely afford to do so. Startups won’t be able to afford to do so, and may find their content throttled as a result.

The Truth

The truth is we don’t yet know what it going to happen from this point on. The ISPs aren’t likely to act rashly for fear of upsetting their customers. Whichever one acts first is likely to face bad publicity and potentially lose customers to their rivals.

Then there is the fact that although the current rules regarding net neutrality have been rejected, it’s not all over yet. The concept isn’t dead, it’s just been thrown back to the FCC for reworking, so it’s entirely possible that a new version of the rules, and therefore some form of net neutrality, will still exist.

We can but hope.

Image Credit: Photosteve101

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