This graphic was created by Reddit user quink, who wanted to illustrate what happens if net neutrality disappears. Originally created when Comcast tried to appeal the FCC’s right to enforce net neutrality in 2009, the graphic is becoming a reality after the ruling this week.
Though the FCC could rewrite its rule or appeal the decision, in the meantime ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable are free to make deals promising quicker content delivery in exchange for payment –essentially creating Internet “fast lanes” for wealthy companies and making their websites easier to access than those of nonprofits, activist groups and smaller competitors.
Quink’s graphic shows web-based service offerings (offered by the fictional TELCO ADSL) that look suspiciously like cable bundles. Very, very basic Internet is offered for a “starter” price of $29.95, while popular sites are bundled together and offered as optional add-ons for $5 to $10. As costs add up, people in quink’s world are left with tough choices — choosing, for instance, between access to online marketplaces and access to the news.
And as for smaller sites? In quink’s foretold world without net neutrality, they’re out of luck. Any sites outside the bundles might count towards a data cap, while sites in the bundles wouldn’t, or small sites might just load really, really slowly and that’s if you’ll be able to access them.
Presumably, websites that want to be included in “bundles” would have to pay providers like TELCO for the privilege. It may sound crazy, but it’s the future envisioned by experts who talk about what the end of net neutrality might mean for small businesses.
It’s evident that as far as Cable Television Companies are concerned, information is a luxury — and one that should be paid for. Will the end of net neutrality see ISPs imitating cable companies? It seems likely, given that many ISPs already are cable companies.