You've heard the talk about 'Net Neutrality', but do you know what it meant, and how the decision to ditch these regulations affects us here in central Minnesota?

We've been spoiled with the internet in the sense of what was called the "open internet", meaning as long as we had an internet connection, we could surf and stream whatever we wanted through that connection, and not be potentially limited by our internet provider. Essentially all content is created equal.

Until this decision yesterday, internet service providers (ISPs) were classified as "public utilities" and had regulations to content equality, not giving preference to any content providers over another.

There's a couple of the larger providers in the central Minnesota area (Charter and Centurylink to name a couple) that could potentially start charging content providers different fees to be able to be accessible through their internet service. There's no word on whether they will any time soon, but there's no regulation any longer.

For example: These ISP's could start charging Netflix and Amazon a fee to allow their streaming services to be delivered to their customers, like you and I. If they charge Netflix or Amazon, you can bet that is going to raise our prices to use their service.

The ISP could also decide to charge us central Minnesotans a packaged fee to be able to have access to streaming services, like Netflix. Don't be surprised if they decide to charge a few extra dollars on our bill for allowing streaming services!

You could even find that free services, like Facebook and Twitter, will get charged to allow their services to be available on the provider's network, causing social media services to try to find a way to trickle the cost down to us users. Due to the popularity of "free" social media, this wouldn't be likely to happen.

It was bound to happen as the internet is intertwined in everything we seem to do. You may remember cable television in the 80's, where you bought the service and got all available cable channels, and there were no commercials. Those days left a long time ago, and now the internet seems to be heading in that direction too.

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