It’s a bit troubling to consider that these might be the ‘good old days’ of surfing the internet. As much as the consumer may not like it the days of paying a flat fee for surfing the web may be coming to and end.
The term internet neutrality comes from the notion that internet providers will give equal access to the web, allowing individual sites to determine whether they are free or cost money. That method may be augmented now, however, since internet providers have been looking at ways of charging based on usage.
Under the new scheme a person might pay a flat fee to get on Facebook and then be charged on a usage basis for watching videos on YouTube. This has become possible as developers figure ways to determine what a consumer is doing on the internet through methods such as ‘deep packet inspection’.
In the future the same way the cable company knows what channels are being watched within a household they will also be able to determine what web sites are being visited and for what content.
Based on that information they can create a whole new billing scheme, allowing them to provide tiered pricing structures and segregating access to the internet. It’s likely this sort of billing scheme will net the internet providers a hefty profit, so it’s also likely they are seriously considering how to make this work.
That said, it is up to the consumer to drive the market, not the other way around. Anyone who believes the internet is a powerful benefit to everyone and should remain free and neutral should say so. National representatives are the ones working on the legislation for this issue, so they need to be the ones hearing the opinions of their constituents.