Net Neutrality: Will It Increase Internet Bills?

Net Neutrality Petition Aimed At FCC, Launched By President

We have all heard explanations about Net Neutrality, but what about how it will affect our monthly internet bills? Now that Net Neutrality votes are in, the next questions is what will happen next. After the buzz about Obama’s handwritten letter to Reddit about Net Neutrality has worn off, will we need to be focused on preventing our internet bills from being hiked up?

With or without Net Neutrality going into effect, there have been some changes — but it can be difficult to understand what you are supposed to be focused on as far as these changes go. For instance, PC World talks about the implications Net Neutrality has on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The MIT Technology Review says that we should think about how the Net Neutrality vote means that places like Chattanooga, Tennessee, (that have free public internet) will no longer have “telecom companies [persuading] 19 state legislatures to block or restrain municipal networks.”

When prompted by the general statement, “what does Net Neutrality mean to the average American?” several responses popped up on blogs — but some choose to focus on the middle of the road as opposed to extremes. For example, Tom’s Guide says, “… In all likelihood, you can continue using the Internet just as you always have, unimpeded by ISP’s business and moral codes. The issue is definitely not resolved yet: cable companies stand to make a lot of money by dismantling net neutrality, and will almost undoubtedly push back. For the moment, though, it’s business as usual online.”

Despite this, the bottom line for many people is how Net Neutrality may affect their wallet in the future — and there seems to be reasons for them to worry. On Twitter, several users have posted warnings before and after Net Neutrality was voted on stating that internet bills will rise. They often link to a document posted by the leader of the FCC — the organization that makes the rules about the radio waves, telephones and other modes of technology that are used for communication.

The document these Twitter users use as evidence that Net Neutrality will result in internet bills rising was released earlier in February. This FCC document was distributed to the public and it gave an account of how Ajit Pai, Commissioner at the FCC, felt about Net Neutrality.

But is it true that Net Neutrality will increase internet bills — possibly on multiple levels? As it appears, PolitiFact, a website dedicated to figuring out if political buzz is factual, gave the Net Neutrality tax increase rumors a “half-true” rating. They found the statement that the “FCC’s net neutrality policy ‘is essentially a massive tax increase'” is at least partially true, but the public does not currently have all the information available.

The reason there is open room for changes is due to the fact that the internet is now declared a “public utility” with the new Net Neutrality vote. As a public utility, the internet could be subject to various forms of taxations. Nevertheless, this does not mean that Net Neutrality instantly means that internet bills will increase immediately or drastically. To clarify, PolitiFact stated the following. “Literally, there won’t be any new taxes as a result of the FCC changes, but there will likely be additional fees. There’s a wide range of estimates — anywhere from zero to $11 billion a year.”

If you are worried about your internet bills getting screwed up because of Net Neutrality, you may be waiting on the verdict for a few months. CNN warns that the Net Neutrality debate is far from over and says, “The FCC rules won’t be official until maybe summertime. That’s when major telecom companies will challenge the rules in court.”

[All images from the referenced links.]