Net neutrality: The debate that will affect you - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Net neutrality: The debate that will affect you

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKOW) -- You may have heard a lot about net neutrality lately, especially since the Federal Communications Commission will vote December 14th to repeal it. Many consumers wonder how it will affect them.

In 2015, the FCC passed a new plan giving it the ability to regulate internet service providers, like AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Verizon. It essentially made the internet a public utility, like electricity or the telephone. 

Net neutrality was how the internet had always worked, but the regulations prevent providers from favoring certain websites, apps and other content. ISPs aren't allowed to slow down or block certain content, say, from competitors, and they can't charge more for certain apps or sites. The idea is to have a free and open internet. 

In general, providers (At&T, Comcast, Charter, Verizon, etc.) are against net neutrality rules, saying because ISPs are so heavily regulated and have to justify what they charge, they won't have any incentive to invest or improve services, and that will stifle innovation.

Matt Nye with the Republican Liberty Caucus says if providers are free to charge what they want, competition will sort it out and that will benefit customers. "Getting rid of net neutrality, we will see better, faster ways to access the internet, higher speeds and more options for consumers."

But here's the biggest concern from those who support net neutrality: the internet will become pay-to-play technology. You'll have high-speed service, which will be for big internet and media companies and people who have money. Everyone else will be left with slow service.

Along with that, people worry service providers will have control over what we see and hear and the "next big thing" - won't be - because no one will see it. Right now, start-ups, entrepreneurs and artists rely on the internet to get the word out about their product.

Large internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are in support of net neutrality. 

After the December 14th vote, which will most likely roll back net neutrality regulations, expect to see lawsuits in response. 

If and when it does go into effect, some experts predict larger internet bills would be the result, not necessarily content blocking. The Federal Trade Commission would be the one to look into any complaints of deceptive practices by internet service providers.

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