Today the FCC voted to repeal "net neutrality" protections, which essentially prevented cable and phone companies from strangling bandwidth and traffic to and from companies who aren't paying certain premiums. It came down to a 3-2 vote, and there's still a long road ahead, but there was a collective, massive moan of despair that went up from the internet when the news broke. The collective lamentation is "Net neutrality is dead."
What this could mean for gamers generally is still unknown, and it would likely be months (if not years) before we realize the long-term consequences of this repeal. The bottom line is, if you use the internet, this concerns you. There are plenty of hyperbolic "what ifs" and "imagine this" scenarios being tossed around, but in this writer's opinion, it's disturbing enough to know that a company like Comcast could essentially control how easy it is for you to access some of your favorite websites, streaming services, or shopping sites.
For now, how quickly and how easily you're able to load up and access various sites and services is dependent on your ping and your connection speed. But imagine a future where you're completely unable to access any streaming service or website owned by Time Warner, simply because Time Warner competes with Comcast? If you're paying for internet access, as long as you're not doing anything illegal, you should be able to go where you please, right?
There are other messy variables at play as well. For those willing to peek behind the curtain, it stings to hear reports of the world's largest cable and internet providers donating huge sums of money to republicans, and three out of the five FCC commissioners are republicans. There's some fact-checking to be done there, and who's to say that there's a direct line of causation to be traced? Still, it does raise a few eyebrows.
Meanwhile FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remind you that it's no big deal. Chill out, internet peasants. You'll still be able to post your lunch on Instagram when it's all said and done, because hey, that's all we un-enlightened consumers use the internet for, right?! If this video doesn't make you want to call your local representatives and start yelling, I don't know what will. See the hyper-wealthy Pai make fun of you here:
Stay tuned, and stay informed. Read up about this vote, educate yourself about Net Neutrality, and ask what you can do to make your voice heard. In the meantime, here's how the rest of the industry is reacting to the news.