A better broadband experience for New Zealand businesses

What’s going on with net neutrality?

You may have been hearing a bit about net neutrality in the news lately and be wondering what it is, what it means for you, and what DTS thinks about it.

Putting it really simply, the principle of net neutrality forbids ISPs from speeding up, slowing down, charging more for, or blocking access to any online content, data, applications or websites you might want to use or visit. We’re talking about specific net services here – not the speed plan you may have purchased.

Net neutrality goes to the very heart of what the internet is all about – freedom of speech and access to information. Please note I am not here saying that all websites should be legal or that law enforcement has no right to prosecute people who do bad things online.

In 2015 the principle of net neutrality was adopted by the US-based Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that has authority over all ISPs, and that was a good thing. However, in December last year the FCC’s Republican majority agreed (by one vote) to dismantle the FCC’s net neutrality protections – freeing up the blocking, throttling and discriminatory charging we’ve mentioned.

They argued net neutrality is no longer needed, but this is simply not true. We all know what big unregulated corporations can do and there are some real Internet giants out there. We think net neutrality will always be needed.

Things are still a little uncertain at present and there is already legal action underway to reverse the FCC’s decision. But here’s an example of what it could mean. An ISP is now free to do a deal with another online company (e.g. a movie streaming service) to slow down your internet access to its competitors (or saying you have to pay more for that access), thereby nudging you towards the one it’s done a deal with.

DTS is firmly committed to the principle of net neutrality and will remain so. We think most of our competitors Downunder will be too. But how the activities of an overseas company will affect our future freedom of access remains to be seen. Let’s hope the legal action to reverse the FCC’s decision is successful.

This has been a very simplified explanation of what is quite a complicated matter, but I think it gets to the heart of the matter.

Managing Director, DTS Ltd
Steve Ritchie