Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, gives a speech during a conference at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) held in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, Feb. 28, 2017. (Andreu Dalmau/EFE/Zuma Press/TNS) Photo credit: Tribune News Service

Nearly one month after net neutrality’s end June 11, Weber State University professors and students have expressed concerns over the future of the internet.

Network Neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally, no matter the lawful source. These ISPs include cable companies, such as Comcast and CenturyLink, and wireless internet providers, such as AT&T and Verizon.

The recently repealed rules, enacted in 2015 during the Obama administration, prohibited blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. That way, an internet service provider who also has interests in content, such as television and news, cannot prioritize their content while placing competitors in a “slow lane.”

Additionally, service providers could not create fast lanes for those who paid more, such as companies or consumers. That could leave smaller companies and lower-income consumers with less internet access.

Dr. Kyle Feuz, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science also voiced his support of net neutrality.

“In general, I believe in less government regulation but in this case, ISPs do not face enough competition to let market factors self-regulate the industry,” said Feuz. “My concern is that ISPs will start prioritizing traffic from their own services or from those services that are large enough to pay for such prioritization. This will make it hard for new services to gain traction on the internet and will likely stifle future innovations.”

Advocates, including many consumer groups, start-ups, and small businesses, suggest that net neutrality is a primary reason for big innovation over the internet the past couple of decades. They are able to create their websites and services online without facing many barriers, especially when working through internet service providers. Netflix is among the supporters, and they have openly advocated against the repeal of net neutrality rules.

“This is the beginning of a longer legal battle,” said a tweet from Netflix’s Twitter account. “Netflix stands with innovators, large and small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.”

Wendy Holliday, Dean of the Stewart Library also shared her thoughts on how the changes in net neutrality might affect higher education.

“While we don’t know the full effects of reversing net neutrality regulations, it could have a significant impact on students and faculty,” Holliday said. “The idea of net neutrality is that all traffic on the Internet is treated equally. Without net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) could create fast and slow lanes of content, and charge more for higher speeds.”

Holliday expressed concern for WSU students and their ability to access research data.

“If students cannot afford to pay for the high bandwidth needed to access course materials, this could negatively impact their learning and success in courses,” Holliday said. “This could be especially challenging for streaming video content. In the Library, we will be watching to see what happens and work to make electronic library resources as widely available as possible.”

According to Battle for The Net’s scoreboard, Congress members from Utah generally disagree with keeping net neutrality rules, and most of them have accepted campaign donations from big ISPs, most notably Senator Orrin Hatch who has taken $677,830 in donations and Rep. Rob Bishop who has taken $50,000 in campaign donations.

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