North Texas Daily

Net neutrality changes could affect Denton startup scene

Net neutrality changes could affect Denton startup scene

Net neutrality changes could affect Denton startup scene
May 28
10:21 2014

Nicholas Friedman / Senior Staff Writer

Imagine being charged more every month for Internet service because you watch Netflix more than you surf the web. Members of the local tech community are hoping this won’t be the case as more and more barriers are placed on net neutrality.

Net neutrality, Mozilla employee and programmer Marshall Culpeper said, is the idea that all data on the web should be treated equally in both cost and content. Culpepper said that large corporations are constantly looking for ways to limit net neutrality in hopes of monetizing and prioritizing data.

“The internet was founded on the principle that data is data,” Culpepper said. “Where it comes from and where it’s going doesn’t matter. Certain kinds shouldn’t be held to a higher standard in terms of cost.”

Culpepper said that net neutrality being taken away would badly affect the Denton startup scene because small economies like Denton’s don’t have as many resources to fight that kind of prioritization. The only option, he said, is to make political leaders aware of what this practice could do to the creative community.

“The easiest thing to do is go to your representative and the FCC and be an advocate for net neutrality locally,” Culpepper said. “Don’t think that just because the FCC is looking into it that it will go away. Big companies with active interests are overturning that, and we shouldn’t sit idle and let them take the web away from us.”

UNT chemistry senior Cameron Burwell said that even though large tech companies aren’t able to enact these anti-net neutrality plans just yet, they are preparing for further monetization.

“I know that companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T are creating monopolies to increase profits,” Burwell said. “In Denton I can get Internet through either Charter or Verizon, but in other cities I have no choice.”

Culpepper said that the Federal Communications Commission has been going back and forth on the idea of enforcing anti-net neutrality practices, with companies like Verizon and Comcast in favor of them, and non-telecom companies like Apple set to benefit as well.

35Denton Director of Social Media Andy Odom said he finds the FCC’s actions to be frustrating and unnecessary.

“The new plan is allowing a situation where Internet service providers could open up ‘internet fast lanes’ that would allow them to charge some applications or services more for faster and more reliable delivery over those that don’t pay,” he said.

Odom said the FCC is determined to make both sides happy but that a ‘fast-lane’ arrangement would be frowned upon and closely reviewed to protect fairness.

As a member of the Denton tech community, Odom said this is where things get scary.

“The argument against [net neutrality] is that the amount of traffic that is being consumed purely by individuals from an entertainment standpoint is a mounting portion of Internet traffic,” University of Texas Dallas student Thomas Graviett said. “Their opinion is that they should be able to mitigate the costs back to the content providers.”

Graviett believes that this mitigation would lead to the limiting of what the Internet has to offer as tool in society.

Odom said the importance of web access goes beyond everyday use.

“When we’re talking about the Internet we’re not just talking about cat videos, Netflix movies and tweets about our lunch,” Odom said. “We’re talking about the greatest development in the collection and distribution of information since Gutenberg. Small startups like Denton need the same access to high-speed Internet and online services and applications as large companies do.

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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