Earlier this month the United States Court of Appeals struck down the FCC's Net Neutrality directive. Just in case you were worried, let me assure you the Internet won’t be coming to an end anytime soon. While this decision has been covered extensively in the media, not much has been said about the potential impact to IT organizations. So without further ado, let’s discuss what IT departments can and should do about it.
As a quick reminder, net neutrality seeks to ensure by law that the data which travels over the Internet continues to get treated equally, as it has always been. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are prohibited from favoring certain products or websites over others, regardless of the source. This equal treatment has, up until now, served to level the playing field for everyone using the Internet. A startup website run by one person has had the same opportunity to succeed as one launched by a Fortune 500 company.
Most of us aren’t fans of cable or satellite TV services because they require us to pay for channels we don’t want (ok, service also stinks). We all wish we could customize our own list of channels to access, and pay for just those channels rather than have to pay for the entire ‘package.’ This same scenario also plays out with Internet services, where different tiers charge for set packages of content offerings. While it's possible, and there are indeed examples of this already happening, I really don’t think ISPs will do it on a large scale. It would seriously upset the balance that makes the Internet possible and, therefore, backfire on the ISPs trying to profit from the situation.
There is still a long legal path ahead with appeals and arguments before we know the final outcome. Until then, let’s think about this from an IT perspective and create some theoretical scenarios.
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