Net Neutrality - easily explained

This is Tim. To relax in the evenings he loves to stream the latest shows on the small yet really cool video platform FLIXNET.

Doing so his internet data usage never really concerned him. 


After all, one of the basic principles of the World Wide Web has always been: unlimited and, above all, full-speed access to all available data – for everyone. And this basic principle has a name, too: “net neutrality”. But what exactly does it mean?


Well, the term was first used by the American jurist and programmer Tim Wu in an academic paper in 2003. In it, Wu describes the importance of equal treatment of data transfers over the internet facing an ever-growing mass of data. 


That means:

Irrespective of the internet provider Tim has, the services or websites he uses or what and how much data he sends or receives, 

the speed at which the data is transmitted from A to B must always be the same. 


Of course, this only works if the internet connection is fast enough. 

And so, with the increasing numbers of users, the network infrastructure has to be adjusted and upgraded accordingly. 


And that’s where it gets interesting:

Because, in Germany, upgrading the network infrastructure is the job of the federal states, and progress here is fairly slow, the big internet providers have been making repeated attempts recently to water down net neutrality as practised up until now. 

They say there’s important and less important data. 

So, for example in case of a network congestion, streaming services like FLIXNET, could be slowed down so that phone calls won’t be affected and break up constantly. 

Their argument: doing so they ensure that networks won’t collapse under high demand! 

Tim isn’t happy about this at all!


Because after all, network stability is only one side of the coin! 

Consumer advocates warn: 

If, for example, large and financially strong services had the option to pay a fee in exchange for preferential treatment from the internet providers, there would be an imbalance to the disadvantage of smaller services like FLIXNET, that would not be able to afford these fees.


Also, prices could go up if newly enabled “special services” would be billed separately when previously they were covered by the plan at no extra cost.


Nothing to look forward to, Tim thinks. Now fortunately, since 2015 there’s been an EU directive that, at least for now, makes sure net neutrality is guaranteed. 

What the future holds for this topic locally as well as on a global scale remains to be seen...


But for the time being Tim’s Flixnet nights are safe!