Net neutrality rules were enacted to regulate internet service providers. But Monday, the Federal Communications Commission is rolling things back.
These new rules are going to affect the way internet providers do business, and that may mean noticeable changes to consumers.
Though 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 deregulation goes into effect.
Zero-rating plans, also called sponsored data plans, allow customers to access a specific service without using data. ISPs use zero-rating plans to promote a particular service – usually one they own or have a stake in.
Data caps are expected to become widespread for broadband service. If customers hit their data limit, ISPs could either throttle their bandwidth or charge fees for increased data usage.
Paid prioritization enables ISPs to charge access fees to content providers like Google, Facebook, and Netflix in order to send content to consumers, and the fees could vary, depending on the bandwidth required. Companies that pay more essentially would be given higher priority.
Paid prioritization can lead to price hikes for internet access. Content providers can raise subscription rates or monthly fees for customers in order to offset the cost of access fees.
And the last major concern is blocked content. ISPs could change their terms of service to censor content deemed offensive or immoral, or they could block websites or apps that offer competing services to their own.
The most effective way for consumers to protect themselves from any upcoming change is to read the fine print on their service plans. ISPs will have to disclose changes they make because of deregulation.
So, consumers should have access to updated information about data caps, paid prioritization or any other changes a service provider may make.