As net neutrality was abolished throughout the US on June 11, its potential impact on Korea is drawing attention.
Network neutrality refers to telecom network operators treating internet services as public goods such as electricity and water and not blocking or slowing down certain web content.
In other words, the policy bans network operators from charging differently or slowing down the speed depending on the content when data is exchanged on the internet.
In the United States, it was established by the former Barack Obama administration and implemented for more than two years. It was also called “Equal Access to Information” on the Internet.
However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which the Republicans took over after the inauguration of the Trump administration, voted for abolishing the principle of network neutrality in December last year. After a grace period of six months, the principle was scrapped.
The scrapping of net neutrality will not immediately hurt or slow down internet services but the network industry, where telecom carriers and the Internet industry are involved, will need a transformation.
First, telecom operators such as Verizon and Comcast will be able to wield strong power as they can legitimately prioritize internet traffic or block specific services.
On the other hand, IT companies based on internet services such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter will be in the position of the weak in terms of network traffic.
Netflix, the largest video streaming service provider in the US, will be hit the hardest. It is sensitive to traffic as it has to provide videos that consume a large amount of data.
Netflix has resisted strongly against dismantling net neutrality and warned of a long-term legal battle.
In addition to Netflix, Google, Facebook, and Twitter also hinted that they would fight in unison, claiming for the “open internet”.
The domestic telecom industry is also debating whether to ease or maintain net neutrality ahead of commercializing 5G communication.
It remains to be seen whether the abolition of network neutrality in the US will affect the domestic telecommunication industry as well.
In Korea, the telecom industry is raising its voice to relax net neutrality for the investment of 5G that requires a huge cost, but the Internet industry is opposing it for fear of rising cost for traffic.