‘Why is my internet slow!?’
In all the years we have worked with computers, this is without a doubt the single most-asked question we’ve had the pleasure of answering.
Like it or not, we’re pretty dependent on the internet. We use it for business, banking, socialising, shopping, communicating, research, news, entertainment, and more. In our books it’s the single greatest invention of the 20th century (our new pretzel making machine being a close second). We use the internet so much largely due to how accessible it is. It’s available to the vast majority of us in some form or another and as a result it has an almost unlimited pool of human experience, knowledge and talent to draw upon.
See, creating stuff on the internet is ridiculously easy (we make websites remember?). You can pop a comment on this post and BAM! a load of people can see it. Step it up a notch and you can create a simple website to showcase your business that is accessible to practically anyone in the world. The internet is indeed a platform of opportunity and one of the essential features that keeps it so is something called ‘Net Neutrality’.
‘What is Net Neutrality?’
There are plenty of others that will no doubt explain it better than us, but in a nutshell it means that all data sent via an Internet Service Provider (ISP – such as BT or Virgin) is treated the same. i.e. the data is sent at the maximum speed possible to your computer. No quibbles.
The Internet’s Net Neutrality is currently protected by law. In the US it is currently under review with a great deal of effort being made to hopefully undo its binding clauses. Each time the effort to abolish Net Neutrality fails, a new one springs up under a different guise. In the UK Net Neutrality is protected under an EU regulation for Open Internet Access, which will of course not last much longer and whilst we had a voluntary system in place prior to this regulation there are no guarantees as to what legal restrictions will be in place post-European exit and a failure to defend Net Neutrality in the US will no doubt embolden ISPs in other countries.
‘What would a lack of Net Neutrality mean?’
Put simply, it can mean a few things:
1. ISPs will be able to charge content providers (websites and services such as Netflix) to continue handling their data at their current speeds.
Why do we care? Because this undoubtedly effects the consumer. Netflix (as an example) will have to recoup those costs (per ISP!) somehow, and that will likely mean an increase in subscription or a drop in available content. The alternative is that your ISP purposefully slows down your ability to access Netflix content,
2. ISPs will be able to charge the consumer for new ‘high speed’ content.
You currently pay for an amount of bandwidth that determines how quickly (if we’re lucky) data is sent to your computer. Would you be prepared to pay more to insure that your favourite sites and services such as Facebook, eBay, BBC iPlayer etc. had the same high speed access? Remember, they won’t be any faster than they were today. You’d be paying for what you already have now.
3. ISPs will ‘team up’ with various websites and services to provide a mixed range available on the market.
“Want to use your internet connection mainly for watching YouTube videos? Well Virgin is the only UK ISP offering them at full speed. Sorry if they’re not available in your area.”
All in all a lack of Net Neutrality is bad news for anyone that isn’t an ISP. At it’s core, abolishing Net Neutrality is all about finding additional ways for these businesses to raise profits, and whilst we’re pretty miffed that we would no doubt end up paying the bill, we’re saddened more-so at the true cost: Fairness.
Right now Pizza Hut gets no preferential treatment over Barry’s Pizza Shack online. Sure, one of them has no doubt invested ridiculous sums of money to insure they have the slickest site and the highest Google search result, but both are just as accessible to the public, and neither is given preferential treatment over the other. We might be a bit biased, because OddLentil is all about the Barry’s Pizza Shack’s of this world, but we think that’s fair and should remain so.
‘So what can I do to insure Net Neutrality stays?’
1. Stay informed.
Even we will admit this seems like a boring subject. But have a think about how much you use the internet, how annoying a slow connection can be, and how much you hate paying more for stuff. You owe it to yourself to make sure you don’t let this one slip by. Head to battleforthenet.com for more information.
2. Sign the petition over at savetheinternet.com
It’s OK, we’re not the biggest fans of petitions either. They often feel like a token gesture of support for a cause but this one actually matters. Huge sites like Amazon are standing in defence of Net Neutrality and directing people to have their say here. This is the de facto source of public outcry, and one of the greatest chances of knocking the fight against Net Neutrality on the head once and for all.
3. When the time comes in the UK (and it will) be prepared to shout.
It doesn’t take much, a paltry 5 minutes is all it will take. A forwarded Facebook post here, a Twitter retweet there. An email to your MP would be incredible. When the time comes we’ll be there to aid you with all the information you need.
Please, do what you can to insure we don’t lose something incredible.
The OddLentil Team