What is Net Neutrality?

The debate on Net Neutrality is about the future of the Internet and the outcomes that could impact every internet user. This video explains what net neutrality is and why it matters, by focusing first on the idea of neutrality.

It teaches:

•    What neutrality means outside of the Internet
•    Why utilities, like providers of electricity, are designed to be neutral
•    Why the internet is currently similar to a utility
•    How the internet experience could change without neutrality



You’ve probably heard about Net Neutrality. It’s a big political issue with strong opinions. And rightfully so. But before we dive into net neutrality, let’s focus on the idea of neutrality.

For example, you could say that a utility that is provided to the public, like electricity, is neutral. It is the same for everyone – and that has real power.

Consider this: Cable TV service comes with only certain channels. Grocery stores only have some products. These services are not neutral because the organizations behind them make choices about what to provide to their customers.

Making these decisions is perfectly legal and aimed at helping their business. After all, customers can always go to the competition.

But what if electric utilities worked this way? What if they could make decisions about which electronics worked when you plugged them in? What if they could charge more for certain brands of appliances that use the same amount of electricity? These decisions could have huge consequences in the market.

Utilities, which typically have no competition, could decide winners and losers by simply making rules. But this isn’t happening because the electric system is designed to be neutral. Any new device can plug into the system without getting permission from the utility.

We protect this kind of neutrality because it’s so important and productive for our society.

Today, the issue isn’t electricity, but the Internet. For most of its history, it has been mostly neutral. The internet service providers, who don’t have much competition, didn’t care how you used the Internet as long as you paid for what you used.

Like a connection to electricity, your product, service, computer or device doesn’t matter. But what if it did?

What if your service provider could change the rules to help their business? What if your favorite websites were unreliable, while the service provider’s favorites were lightning fast? What if they decided what video services you could access, and at what speeds?

These new rules could decide winners and losers. This is not neutral.

Net Neutrality means that all products, services, data and devices are treated equally – everything can plug right in.

It means that, instead of organizations competing on connection speeds or favorable rules, they can compete on quality. It means that every person and organization has an equal shot at making something amazing on the internet. That’s Net Neutrality.

The question is: Should the internet remain neutral like a utility? Or should internet service providers in an effort to help their business, be able to create rules that favor some products and services over others? That’s