As a Nashvillian who goes to school at UNC-Chapel Hill and frequently visits my grandparents house in Atlanta, I’m pretty excited about Google Fiber’s recent announcement that they are building a fiber-optic network in each of these metro areas. This means super high-speed Internet service (up to 100 times faster than current broadband networks) for Google Fiber users. Also, you’ll never have to wait for your Netflix to buffer ever again.
Like Morgan, I am interested in seeing how this technology impacts the debate over net neutrality, the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all Internet data as open and equal. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently debating the reclassification of ISPs under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This would allow ISPs to manage your Internet access and charge you depending on your usage. It’s like creating an Internet highway with toll roads, blocking and limiting access to specific websites…unless you pay for it.
The problem (and the biggest concern I see) here is the death and acquisition of smaller Internet companies and the gradual monopolization of Internet access by big-name ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. The end of free and open internet would be the end of heavy competition between Internet providers, thus, the end of competitive low pricing. This could mean paying more money out of our pockets for access to the same quality Internet we enjoy today. I don’t like this possibility.
I must admit that my understanding of net neutrality is still a little rusty, but overall I see less pros than cons to a two-tiered Internet structure. All I hope for is that the Internet stays as close to what it is now—access to all websites through one connection. Google fiber does just that, and at a faster, more reliable speed.