The Internet is abuzz with the news that President Obama is set to veto a law that overturns net neutrality. From the perspective of a company like Plum Voice whose interactive voice response (IVR) systems frequently rely on various platforms, websites, web services, protocols and data exchange servers to power a number of our systems, this is good news. But what does this decision mean? Why is this a big deal? And what exactly is net neutrality?
According to Wikipedia, net neutrality in the United States is based on the theory that there should be no restrictions by service providers or the government on consumer access to the Internet. Specifically, net neutrality prevents restrictions on content, sites, platforms, websites, services, protocols and even types of equipment used for Internet access and communication. This principle was drafted to prevent broadband service providers from blocking applications, content and even computers from accessing the Internet.
Many who support net neutrality argue that telecom companies artificially control the flow of Internet traffic to create an argument for the advantages of purchasing their top-tiered service plans, which would otherwise be unnecessary. There is reasonable evidence to support this claim, as it was discovered that Comcast (the number two U.S. service provider) was actively interfering with high-speed Internet subscribers’ attempts to share online files. Comcast both willfully and purposely slowed down peer-to-peer communications.
If broadband service providers are falsely altering the communication capabilities of its customers to prod them into paying for more speed, it represents false advertising and an artificial demand for a product that is not as scarce as presented. Many systems and applications (including various IVR applications) use large amounts of data quite frequently. If customers aren’t getting the type of quick upload and download responses they expect while visiting various web pages and performing assorted tasks, companies without control of Internet speed could suffer as well.
In late 2010, the FCC passed net neutrality laws with the intent of preventing Internet providers from interfering with subscriber’s access to the web, regardless of how much they were accessing the Internet or how much bandwidth they were consuming. There has since been legislation to counteract or overturn this legislation, thus making it legally okay for broadband companies to regulate the speed at which subscribers can access the Internet and the type of content they can both download and share when they are there.