The days of free access to all Internet sites may be over. We all currently have this luxury due to a Net Neutrality rule that has been in place for quite some time. Last week that ruling was shot down by a judge, which means the Internet, as we know it today many no longer be free. I ran across an article in Ebony does a great job explaining the potential impact by comparing access to Internet sites (all of which are completely free and open at the moment) to your cable company and how it charges premiums for channels, like HBO. Imagine paying more based on the sites you visit. The article explains that the change could manifest itself in many forms:
Tiered service, where for data-intensive sites like Netflix may cost more.
Higher costs to businesses that require consumption of large amounts of data, also like Netflix, which means their added costs could be passed on to consumers.
Additional costs for entities that provide mass, open access (like cities and coffee shops) or may even charger per user. Again, this option may be passed on to the consumer as well, maybe in the form of even more expensive coffee.
So with either option, the impact is the same: consumers will pay more. But remember, these changes are only speculation at the moment. The topic is so controversial, I doubt you’ll see an extra line item on your bill labeled “Netflix access fee”. More likely, maybe Starbucks will require you to watch a 30-second ad that covers their added costs before can freely roam onto its Wi-Fi network. Or maybe while you wait to get your oil changed, the Ford dealership will require you to take a survey ranking new features it’s considering adding to its vehicles (market research). Whatever the approach companies take, it will cost you in either time or money. For now, we can all sit back, relax and enjoy a little comic relief, on the subject courtesy of the The Colbert Report.