Wondering why we need Net Neutrality? Look to Portugal

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

01 November 2017

You’re probably sick of hearing about Net Neutrality by now, especially given that every third tech headline seems to be about the fight to save it. We get it; it’s tiring.

But it’s important to remember why we’re all fighting so hard to keep the internet an equal and open place. And if you need a reminder, then look no further than Portugal.

Internet users in Portugal right now are getting a taste of what life is like without Net Neurality. Laws to protect users from a tiered internet do not exist there, and telecommunications companies like Lisbon-based MEO sell broadband service tiers that cap your internet usage. [After you reach your cap, they’ll sell you more data—according to which services and apps you use.])https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171030/12364538513/portugal-shows-internet-why-net-neutrality-is-important.shtml)

With MEO, the messaging package includes Whatsapp, Skype and Facetime, and costs €4.99 per month. The social package includes Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter, and costs €4.99 per month. The emails and cloud package includes Gmail, Google Drive and iCloud, and costs €4.99 per month.

We could go on, but you get the picture.

Essentially, what we’re seeing here is what Net Neutrality advocates have been warning of for years—but now, it’s reality.

Its important to note that it’s not just the cost that’s terrible in this situation. The ISP in the case above has total control over which apps are whitelisted, meaning that companies that pay more for their apps to be featured will be the ones that appear. This stifles competition and makes smaller companies face huge obstacles to succeed.

A good example of this is Netflix. In the past, Netflix has been a vocal critic of tiered internet access and the practices outlined above. However, they’re now big enough, and rich enough, not to have to worry. As CEO Reed Hastings said earlier this year, they’re big enough to get the deals they want.

A lot of other service providers, however, are not. And you shouldn’t have your access to such services put in jeopardy.

We could be facing the last chance to save Net Neutrality—so visit Battle for the Net and call congress to tell them what you think.

For the sake of the internet.

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