In case you missed the panic and predictions of death and destruction – there was a landmark net neutrality decision handed down on January 14. The US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, sided with Verizon over the Federal Communications Commission when it comes to net neutrality. The court said that the FCC overstepped when it barred broadband Internet providers from slowing or blocking select web traffic.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality refers to a set of rules laid out by the FCC in 2010 that were designed to keep Internet providers from playing favorites. These rules aimed to keep the Internet open to everyone and prevent service providers from “unreasonably discriminating” against any website or piece of online content. Net neutrality proponents say that in this day and age, access to the Internet is a right, not a privilege. And so, with this decision, the Internet is abuzz with doomsday scenarios of pay-to-play Internet access.
Worst Case Scenario Speculation Abounds
So you want to watch a YouTube video? That’ll be $5, please.
You want to download music from Soundcloud? Sure thing. It’ll only take an hour to download one song. But you can pay twice as much over at Amazon to get the same music in under 2 minutes.
These are the types of scenarios that are possible with the loss of net neutrality, and the media has been aflutter trying to figure out just what this could mean for consumers and content creators.
The End Of The World As We Know It (Or not)
Streaming video, which forever changed the way Americans watch television, could be changing yet again (and possibly send us all back to our cable boxes). Internet service providers are now allowed to treat video differently than other forms of data. This is bad news for consumers because in the end, costs are going to go up. Experts predict that you’ll either see it in the cost of your Netflix or Hulu subscription, or you’ll see it on your Internet bill.
Or worse, you could get slapped twice.
ISPs could suddenly charge Netflix exorbitant fees, which they will pass on to consumers in the form of higher subscriptions. Then, you could be hit with another whammy from your provider. Many in the industry believe that there will soon be tiered fees for Internet service – if you want speed, you’re going to have to pay for it. In addition to tiered fees for service, ISPs could tack on individual monthly fees if you want to download or stream music and video.
There is still a third scenario. Some of the costs could be shifted to the consumer. But let’s not forget advertising. Advertisers already foot the bill for much of our current access to content. In a post-net neutrality world, advertisers could end up paying twice. Once for the ad space, and a second time for the bandwidth.
And what about YouTube?
YouTube is owned by Google. And let’s face it, Google could shut down the entire Internet if they wanted to, and very well might if ISPs suddenly make it harder for viewers to consume content on YouTube. There are several options here, as well. Content creators could pay a fee to upload video. There could be paywalls installed on certain types of YouTube video content. Or YouTube could just tap advertisers to foot the added costs, should they come to fruition.
We’ve All Put the Cart Before The Horse
It is important to remember that this is all speculation. Nothing of the sort has happened yet. But it’s not outside the scope of possibility. The fact is, Verizon spent millions fighting this case. They wouldn’t have taken it this far and spent so much money if they didn’t see even more dollar signs in their future.
Until it all shakes out, content creators can’t do anything but press on. Keep churning out amazing video content that your customers want to see. The FCC will likely appeal, and this could continue to drag on for quite some time with no resolution. Until it’s finalized, all anyone can do is serve their audience to the best of their ability (and maybe start learning a little more about Vine and Instagram Video).
Do you think the net neutrality decision will affect how businesses produce online video or is this only a concern for consumers? Let us know what you think below!