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How the end of Net Neutrality will affect gamers

Posted by Jason on December 11, 2017 at 7:35 AM

We have been enjoying the internet as intended, with net neutrality.

So what is net neutrality? It's the concept that those who provide internet (ISPs), give consumers the access and rights to visit websites freely. Any website can be viewed, whether it is YouTube, Facebook or Buzzfeed.

This has always been the goal and intentions behind the internet. With net neutrality, internet service providers are regulated to ensure that they follow the procedures outlined above.

If net neutrality is disbanded, ISPs like Verizon or Comcast could restrict website access, essentially charging users even more money to visit specific sites. So, for example, Comcast may charge a user $3.99 extra to use YouTube, and then another $3.99 for access just to Netflix. And, that's in addition to the subscription fees for Netflix.

It is essentially a pay-to-win system, whereas websites like Netflix and YouTube are "loot boxes".

A system that would certainly be used if net neutrality laws weren't in place.

Should Net Neutrality End?

Gamers and longtime internet users would scream NO, absolutely not! Essentially anyone except certain Verizon executives and greedy corporate drones would strongly advice not to end net neutrality.

In the words of Tim Wu, who invented the term "net neutrality", this system is essentially a philosophy for innovation. Access to the internet is a basic human right. We cannot allow those with more finances to be allowed more freedoms. Internet service providers already make enough money as is, and even then are still some of the most hated companies in the world, and for good reason.

Wu states that the best internet is a democratic one, governed for the consumers by the consumers.

Currently the Federal Communication Commission enforces net neutrality. In the Open Internet Rules of the FCC, internet service providers are to make sure that they do not block websites or restrict bandwidth, something known as "unreasonable discrimination".

Additionally, providers have to let the FCC know of all their internet management practices, including commercial and performance applications. In other words, Comcast isn't allowed to be shady (although some would say they are quite shady already).

If We Lose Net Neutrality

Without net neutrality, the majority of our internet is going to be restricted. Searching something on Google? Enjoy having your search redirected. Gaming with no lag (low ping)? Enjoy having your internet slowed tremendously. And streaming is going to be heavily throttled as well, so good luck binge watching your favorite Netflix show.

Seriously, even with net neutrality and enforcement policies in place, internet service providers have been seriously trying to find any loophole they can to squeeze extra money out of consumers, and cutting their internet freedoms in the process.

The first thing to happen without net neutrality has to do with enforcement. With net neutrality gone, the FCC no longer has any jurisdiction. It's up to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to handle breaches in protocol.

But the real issue here, and the one that would most effective internet users is the "slow lanes". Basically an internet provider can slow down the user's connection times. A website will be slowed down, and for a moderate fee, the ISP can give them a normal connection speed. This is no different than mobster racketeering, whereas a problem is created by the "mob" (ISP), and the user (victim) pays them to solve it.

So ultimately net neutrality will mean higher prices and slower speeds for consumers, which would be a huge upset for the gaming community. After forking over massive amounts of cash for a top of the line gaming PC, gamers would have to shell out additional funds to be able to play online comfortably.

But the horrors of net neutrality do not end with consumers. Even content providing companies can be hit with extra fees from internet service providers, who will be able to make certain websites incredibly slow, or block them altogether.

Today's Net Neutrality Issue

As it stands the Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, a man who formerly worked as a lawyer for Verizon, wants to change up the rules for Internet Service Providers.

He's currently attempting to bargain with Congress about weakening the restrictions surrounding net neutrality and current Internet service providers.

From Ajit Pai himself,

"In 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It's depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation, today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach."

This man is more or less making his mission to end net neutrality. If Pai's goal is implemented, and net neutrality fades from reality, here's how gamers will be hit the hardest.

Your favorite, or least favorite developer can now pay (bribe) your ISP for prioritized treatment. Which means similar gaming companies and their services are now throttled. It's hard to enjoy a game when it's the only game you can play comfortably. For example, lets say EA pays Verizon a bunch of cash from their latest loot box heist.

Now all of EA's competition is throttled, or even blocked from gamers. With nothing left to play, gamers are stuck either playing Battlefront or nothing at all.

And then there's phase two. Now, in addition to only being able to play Battlefront, you have to shell out extra cash so you can connect to online matchmaking, or Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, Steam, etc.

But wait, there's more. You also have to constantly pay when you fill the data quota. It is in many ways similar to paying for extra lives in certain mobile games.

So again, should net neutrality end?

No, of course not. If you are a concerned gamer or internet enthusiast, it's time to do something about this injustice.

If you live within the United States, please contact your state representatives. We don't have much time left at all. Join us in putting an end to an unfair internet future.

Categories: Gaming and other topics, Technology

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