So net neutrality is over, at least for now. What is net neutrality anyway? It's simple to explain, but the implications are murky. Short explanation: net neutrality means that your internet service provider has to treat all your internet data the same. ISPs can't throttle some kinds of data, or charge you extra for other data, or block data from competitors.

On the surface net neutrality sounds good, right? However, it also prevents ISPs from experimenting with new business models and pricing structures. For example, at peak times Netflix accounts for something like 30% of internet traffic in America. Netflix makes a ton of money from this, but they don't pay anything for the bandwidth. ISP subscribers pay for all that capacity as a part of their monthly service fees. This is fine if you use Netflix, but if you don't (as I don't) then you're paying for someone else's Netflix bandwidth. Why shouldn't Netflix kick in some money to pay for the bandwidth their subscribers are using?

Ok, so now you're convinced that net neutrality is bad! Those big internet content companies should pay for the bandwidth they use! Right?

Well, what happens when your ISP signs a contract with Netflix? Netflix pays some money to your ISP to get super-fast data to your livingroom during peak TV-watching hours, and maybe your internet bill goes down. However, Amazon doesn't want to pay for access, or maybe they're just outbid by Netflix. So if you prefer Amazon Prime's movie selection to Netflix, you either can't get it at all or your bandwidth is throttled. Lame! (Not to mention start-up companies that won't be able to afford to buy access.)

It's not really clear if net neutrality is all-good, but the internet has managed to thrive with the philosophy in place. I can understand some theoretical advantages to removing net neutrality, but considering how good things have been for the past 20 years I'm not willing to take the risk.

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