There is something escalating in the United States of America that nobody seems to be talking about but everybody needs to know about. I am not talking about President Trump, his new press secretary, or even North Korea. I am, however, talking about Net Neutrality and how it is about to have ever-lasting effects on anyone who uses the internet. So I am talking about everyone.
Imagine the days when you first got internet access. How new it was. How its conveniences seemed endless and have been growing by the second. I grew up waiting for my favorite song to come on K104 or WRRV and I just hoped I had enough space on whatever hundredth blank tape I had queued in my boom box. Now when I want to hear my favorite song I simply reach for my iPhone, iPad, or even tell my car to play it. My store recently had cassette players come out for a nostalgic gift idea. I remember listening to songs or the Yankees on my Walkman while sitting on the beaches of Wildwood Crest. Now I can listen to the same songs or watch the game on my aforementioned iPhone on the beach. Are you kidding me?
While Back to the Future Part II almost predicted the year the Cubs will win the World Series, the flying cars were a big miss. However the amount of features our cars have compared to those I rode in as a kid are few and far between. Back to the internet.
I recently saw a buddy of mine post something on Facebook asking if Dish Network was a better option than Time Warner Cable. Everybody seems to be anti-cable companies these days given the growing amount of fees and charges that seem to be growing by the month. If you look at a bill breakdown for cable you’ll notice most of the charges come from cable, premium channels, and even having a DVR box. Take these away and you get your $10-20/month landline phone and your $10-50/month internet fee. It averages around $150-175/month. Imagine just paying $50 for the best internet option and maybe $50 for basic cable. Eliminate the landline you never use and get a $100/month bill. An easy way to save $600-900/year. But the internet rates are about to change and it can get to the point where cable fees are the cheap options on your billing statement.
Net Neutrality was kept alive during the Obama administration and it ensured all services available from internet access will be treated equally and no additional charges given. Basically paying a cable or satellite company for internet access or even a cell phone company for data allows you to surf whatever part of the web you want without paying any additional fees. There are internet services like Netflix and Hulu that come with monthly fees. A few new ones are Apple Music and Pandora. A recent court settlement ended Net Neutrality yet the appeal process is slowing down its adverse effects. But baby they are coming.
The ability to stream off Netflix, Hulu, an Amazon Fire Stick, or any other provider is the most popular use of the free internet world we currently live in. Imagine a world where Netflix charges $19.99/month instead of $10.99/month. There’s another $108/year you won’t get back and that is just the beginning. Netflix is so convenient and so coveted that they can charge in the $40-50/month range and most of its users will not blink an eye. With a free internet world in the USA this would never happen. It can happen now. I am not saying it will but you have to expect the unexpected. Cable companies will also profit from this situation. I read an article a few years back where it was mentioned cable companies could begin charging a “streaming fee” given the growing rate of online binge watching. So the $10-50/month internet you currently get could go up by $10-50/month just to stream. That one would most definitely leave a mark in your wallet.
I have not even mentioned the charges that can come with social media outlets. If you have been on Facebook the last 10 years you have probably seen the “fake” petitions where people are going nuts that the site will not be free effective such and such date. It has remained “free” yet look at the amount of ads there are compared to when you would log on just eight years ago. A monthly $5 fee could be coming. The same amount could be charged by Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. These are all outlets that did not exist 15 years ago but have literally dominated the internet and society since.
In other countries fees already exist for social media outlets. They are itemized within a monthly cable bill and something their citizens have grown accustomed to. But in the land of the free and the home of the brave these fees will be unwelcomed and a rude awakening. Too many people don’t know enough about Net Neutrality to have any clue what may be coming. Once they do know, though, a collective response may just be: “Wait what?”