The words net neutrality have been thrown around a lot lately, but you may not have realized this failing fight may actually be affecting you. Net neutrality is the idea to stop internet service providers from deliberately throttling services to certain websites. In laymen’s terms, this could mean a lot of buffering, and possibly suffering, for streaming service giants like Netflix and it’s customers (i.e. you!).
Known as America’s favorite streaming service, Netflix is at the very core of this net neutrality issue. Some internet service providers, ISPs, want to throttle Netflix, or slow down it’s streaming bitrate, because of competition with their own streaming or television services.
The FCC didn’t approve of this behavior because it believes the internet is “open” and that “anyone can access and build to [the internet], and [the internet should] treat all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way.” The FCC’s net neutrality rules does have great intentions. The FCC was focused on making sure that every American has access to the open internet and broadband or high-speed internet service. However, the fight for net neutrality has come to a stand-still after portions of the rules were struck down in federal court. Meaning that ISPs still do not have to treat all service providers, Netflix, equally.
What does this mean for you? Without these new net neutrality rules, ISPs threaten internet openness by purposely throttling streaming giants like Netflix simply because they can. Many ISPs may slow nitrate speeds to turn customers away from Netflix and back to their TVs, or they may want Netflix to pay more for additional bandwidth. Consumerist displayed the real slowed speeds from Comcast and Verizon FiOS in a chart on their website.
Just this week Netflix and number one internet provider, Comcast, struck a deal to ensure that Comcast customers using Netflix will have faster streaming speeds than other ISPs. While this may be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the FCC’s euphoric net neutrality rules, one thing we can all be sure of: If an ISP is deliberately buffering a Netflix stream during a nail-biting binge of the new season of House of Cards there could be some major trouble. Possibly some broken TVs and maybe a twitter rant (or two). For now, Comcast users can rejoice in faster speeds while the rest of us pray for consistent streaming.
Don’t have Comcast and want to know if your ISP is throttling your Netflix service? According to itworld.com, you can search “Example Short 23.976” in Netflix to view your streaming bitrate. Learn more here.