The end of "net neutrality" is going to majorly affect the way internet-service providers do business, but how noticeable will the changes be for you, the customer?
While major internet service providers say the web will remain essentially unchanged after net neutrality rules are rolled back, according to consumer reports, there are a few things consumers should keep an eye out for once the deregulation takes effect.
You might consider investing in a zero-rating plan, also called sponsored data plans, which allow customers to access a specific service without using data. ISPs usually offer zero-rating plans to promote a particular service that they own or have a stake in.
Unlimited data could soon be a thing of the past. Keep an eye out for changes in your current internet plan, including the addition of the data caps. If customers hit their maximum data allowance, providers could either slow down the speed of your service or charge fees for increased usage.
PRICE HIKES FOR INTERNET ACCESS
ISPs can charge access fees (known as "paid prioritization") to content providers like Google, Facebook, and Netflix in order to send content to consumers. The fees could vary depending on the bandwidth required for the service.
For example, streaming your favorite TV show on Netflix requires a significant amount of data while a simple Google search requires very little. Therefore, ISPs could decide to charge Netflix much more than Google to get their content to your connected devices.
Companies willing to pay more of these fees are essentially given higher priority, which means you could see a rise in subscriptions rates or monthly fees from content providers to offset the costs of these fees.
In the era of net neutrality, the internet was a level playing field. Anyone with access could do what they wanted as long as they wanted. Deregulation could potentially change what you can access on the internet.
For example, ISPs could change their terms of service to censor content deemed offensive or immoral. Or the could block websites or apps that offer competing services to their own.
The most effective way for consumers to protect themselves from any upcoming changes is to read the fine print on their service plans. ISPs will have to disclose any changes they make as part of the deregulation, so consumers should have access to updated information about data caps, paid prioritization or any other changes a service provider may make.
Reporting by Mary Moloney, NBC News.
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