While camping a gate in Fountain recently an FC allowed certain traffic to jump through unmolested, while destroying other ships without hesitation. In a similar fashion, ISPs may take advantage of changes coming to the Internet next month.
US regulations that require network providers to treat all traffic equally are expected to be rolled back next month by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This raises the specter of tiered access to content and consequent problems for gamers and other content consumers. Some US Eve players wonder if this change will affect them, asking whether they will need to pay extra in order to access the servers, and some real life examples from other countries with weak neutrality enforcement paint a dismal picture.
Portuguese wireless carrier Meo “offers a package that’s very different from those available in the US,” according to Business Insider. “Users pay for traditional ‘data’ — and on top of that, they pay for additional packages based on the kind of data and apps they want to use.” Services such as email, chat, search, video and gaming are all charged separately. As recently as 2015, when neutrality rules went into effect in the US, consumers were forced to pay extra or were completely blocked from certain content. Your Internet service provider (ISP) could provide free search access to Ask Jeeves or Yahoo but charge you extra to use Google. Your ISP’s financial stake in a large content provider’s games could mean access to those games were free, but access to others could cost more. Your startup business couldn’t access consumers, who found your site difficult to reach due to bandwidth limits.
US House Representative Ro Khanna of California in an October Tweet said, “In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages,” he wrote. “A huge advantage for entrenched companies, but it totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation. This is what’s at stake, and that’s why we have to save net neutrality.”
Opponents of net neutrality argue the regulations “overturned decades of precedent that treated the internet as a realm where private individuals and groups could freely act and express ideas without the presence of government intervention,” according to conservative advocacy group Information Station. They contend that net neutrality equals government regulation of the internet and that the Internet is different than traditional utilities like water or electricity. “The expensive upfront investments that lead to monopolies in these industries don’t apply to internet service providers,” they say. “In fact, while there are only a handful of traditional utility providers, there are roughly 4,400 ISPs across the country. When this level of competition is naturally present, government involvement will only impede internet consumers and businesses alike.”
Neutrality supporters view the Internet as an indispensable “utility”, similar to water or electricity, and one that should be regulated and protected from special interests locking out those they dislike. Neutrality opponents view the Internet as a “wild west” environment where “competition” should range free.
Most observers aren’t buying that view. “The FCC under Pai is handing over the internet to a few humongous gatekeepers who see the rest of us as products to be delivered to advertisers, not as citizens needing communications that serve democracy’s needs,” said Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner and current special adviser at Common Cause. In a statement earlier this week Copps said, “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s scorched-earth plan for net neutrality displays callous disregard for both process and substance. The chairman’s plan to do away with net neutrality will be a disaster for consumers and yet another handout for big business.”
The FCC votes on the repeal December 14.