News began circulating last month that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had proposed the creation of fast and slow lanes for internet service speeds (think internet highway).
The addition of fast and slow lanes would require Amazon and Netflix to pay a premium to internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner in order to provide faster internet service to customers.
According to the article, “4 ways a fast lane could change your internet service” by James O’Toole, “The rules are still subject to change — the FCC has to consider public comments and face scrutiny from lawmakers before they’re finalized.” James provides a list of four ways that fast lanes could change the way the internet operates.
- Higher Costs. Broadband companies will increase their rates for content providers and consumers will assume the responsibility of paying for those additional costs.
- Slower Speeds. A new infrastructure would not be necessary to accommodate the new fast lanes. Instead, overall speed could be compromised if some companies choose to purchase faster internet speed; leaving less bandwidth available for other companies to use. However, the FCC has assured companies will not be penalized with slow speed for choosing not to purchase fast lanes. Although, the inevitable slowing could force companies to pay for faster internet speed.
- Prioritized Content. Consumers typically move towards higher quality content if they are paying the same price for poor quality content. The same is true for users who stream online content on Netflix and Hulu. If these large companies can receive priority for internet speed, more users will flock to stream content on their sites. The FCC Commissioner, Tom Wheeler, ensures that it won’t segregate companies by those that purchase fast lanes and those that do not, but it is already happening.”Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, introduced monthly data allotments for broadband customers a few years ago but exempted its own streaming video content, disadvantaging competing services like YouTube.” Prioritizing content will cause small businesses and start ups with limited budgets to suffer and succumb to their high-budget competition.
- Better Service for Some Applications. Priority content may not be an ideal solution for all companies, but Wheeler believes that consumers would be completely satisfied should some companies receive ‘fast-lane treatment.’ For example,”digital voice service already gets “fast lane” priority on broadband networks so that phone calls aren’t disrupted.” Additional services that could receive priority for faster content on broadband could be services like e-learning, gaming, and TV.