Net Neutrality Research Paper

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Introduction

The Internet has historically been considered an “open and free” medium. Currently, Internet users get access to any Web site on an equal basis. Foreign and domestic sites, big corporate home pages and low-traffic blogs all show up on a user’s screen in the same way when their addresses are typed into a browser. (NY Times 2010) Having its beginnings in military and research facilities in the late 1960’s, ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) slowly evolved into what is now known as the Internet in the 1990’s. Since then is has become the backbone of American and world culture and economics. There is almost no limit to the content available today. Any person with an idea and access to the Internet can share that idea with the world more quickly than in any other time in human history. (Hunter, 2010)

Today there are deep battle lines that have been drawn. The ones on the side of the broadband companies argue that they need financial incentives to lay the cables and build the networks that will be necessary to handle surging amounts of digital traffic. (USA Today, 2011) They emphatically reject any government oversight or regulations stating that government interference will smother internet growth. This is despite that fact the original architecture of the Internet was created by government and universities. Its usefulness was greatly enhanced over the years by companies such as Intel, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Apple and Google, much more so than by service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Yet it is the service providers that are demanding to become its gatekeepers. (USA Today, 2011)

The division (with some exceptions) goes down the party lines. Democrats, who are in favor of net-neutrality rules, insist regulation is needed to prevent network operators discriminating in favor of their own services. A cable-TV firm that sells both broadband internet access and television services over its cables might, for example, try to block internet-based video that competes with its own television packages. Republicans worry, that net neutrality will be used to justify a takeover of the internet by government bureaucrats, stifling innovation (that the internet’s origins lie in a government-funded project is quietly passed over.) (The Economist, 2010)

To begin to grasp what has transpired since the advent on the Internet, one must know that the Internet will continue along its phenomenal growth path, despite the current global economic crisis. What's different is that the Internet will become increasingly mobile and social. By 2012, more people will access the Internet via cell phones than PCs. Their favorite activities will be downloading music, videos and ringtones rather than searching the Web or sending e-mail. (PC World, 2009).

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the concept that states that every person should have the same open access to the internet. In other words, internet service providers should not discriminate against people based on the amount of internet bandwidth they use. Individuals who have paid for internet access should be able to visit all websites at competitive speeds. If the internet was to become non-neutral, then people would have to individually buy access to different websites.

Currently, no restrictions are being imposed, save parental control, on the information we are able to gather, and there are no restrictions on communication via the internet nor uploading and downloading. (Boswell) All of this is to change if the ISP's have it their way. One of the greatest aspects of net neutrality is the options you have to choose from when trying to obtain content via the internet. One of the biggest fears is if net neutrality is gone, certain websites may be exclusive to a certain ISP that other ISP's will not be able to provide to you. Another vantage point of net neutrality is the options make the websites...
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