How the End of Net Neutrality Could Affect Your Wallet


Publish Date:
August 15, 2017
  • Snider, Susannah
U.S. News & World Report
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The debate surrounding the repeal of net neutrality has touched on everything from free speech to online innovation and consumer rights. But how will it affect consumers’ wallets?

The short answer: It depends. “There are costs on both sides,” says Nicol Turner-Lee, a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in the District of Columbia.

One place to look for clues about a world without net neutrality rules is in Europe, says Barbara van Schewick, professor at Stanford Law School and a leading expert on net neutrality. Before European net neutrality laws were implemented, “a lot of mobile providers limited what you could do on the less expensive mobile plans,” she says. For example, she says, people on the lowest mobile tier may pay less for service, but they wouldn’t be able to use internet calling applications such as Skype.

“The concern for people’s pocketbooks here is [whichever content provider] can pay for a ‘fast lane’ will increase their prices for us,” van Schewick says. “Or if they don’t charge us directly, they’ll increase their ads.”

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