HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - University of Alabama in Huntsville Professor Jeet Gupta watches the net neutrality proceedings closely. The debate focuses on whether internet service providers like Comcast can charge more to content providers like Netflix who need fast speeds to succeed.
It could also open the door for people like you to pay a lot more to get an acceptable internet speed.
Think of it like this, a student at UAH can pay their tuition and graduate in four years. Gupta picks up the metaphor, "Now, there's another student who can pay more, and we tell that student, 'Oh, if you pay tuition to us twice, we'll come up with a special program for you that you can complete the degree in three years.'"
On the other side of the debate streaming on Gupta's computer, he summarizes, "The free-market system says, 'Okay, here are the customers that are willing to pay for the service that they want, and they want to be treated in a premier fashion.' Just like airlines, how I can travel in the economy, I can travel in the first class. So they want to be able to say let the market control it, who is willing to pay for a higher service, and who is not willing to pay for a higher service."
The debate could have dangerous implications for internet users. It could deepen class lines.
Think about kids just trying to use the internet for homework -- suddenly those who can afford lightning internet have a huge advantage and will be more prepared for a wired-in future. On the other hand, is it fair to limit cable companies on what they can charge on either end of the service they provide?
That's what's up for grabs with the current free-for-all in the Congressional hearings Gupta watches. You should watch too.
You can also weigh in with your own opinion to help determine the future of the internet.
To express your opinion on net neutrality, you can contact leaders using the following resources:
Federal Communications Commission
You can provide comments to the FCC on this specific issue with the form here.
U.S. House of Representatives
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)
(202) 225-0600 - Washington office
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-District 5) - see counties in District 5
(202) 225-4801 - Washington office
(256) 551-0190 - Huntsville office
(256) 355-9400 - Decatur office
(256)-718-5155 - Shoals office
Sen. Harry Reid - (D-Nevada)
Senate Majority Leader
(202) 224-3542 - Washington office
The White House