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How the FCC’s new net neutrality rules could be bad news for gamers

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fcc-logoVideo games tend to exist within their own space. Most of the time, we only have to deal directly with the companies that make the games. Whether it’s good or bad, the buck pretty much stops with the publisher or developer. But new rules the FCC is proposing could ultimately end up forcing companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to charge us more for the services we use. If these rules go through, internet service providers could end up controlling how we access content online and how much we pay for it.

The proposed rules gives ISPs such as Comcast, Time Warner or any other company that provides internet service the right to charge other companies for fast access to services they provide to customers. For example, Comcast could require Microsoft to pay it a certain amount of money to prevent them from throttling connection speeds to Xbox Live. If Microsoft refuses, our connection speeds to Xbox Live will get slower. It doesn’t matter if you pay for a 100Mbps plan. You won’t get what you pay for unless the companies that provide your service is willing to pay your ISP for special treatment.

This could result in higher prices for us. In a way, it’s already happening. In February, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast to make sure its customers could have smoother streaming experiences. Before that agreement, people suddenly started complaining about how lousy their Netflix service had become. Now Netflix speeds through Comcast have supposedly increased by around 65%. That comes at a cost though. Yesterday, Netflix announced it would be increasing the price of its service by one or two dollars for new customers. Sure, one could argue the increased price will help Netflix produce more original content. I’m sure it would, but I also think the timing of this and the Comcast agreement are more than coincidental.

If this proposal is approved, it will have a tremendous negative effect on the internet. Nothing will be safe. The more popular a service is, the more of a target it becomes. Naturally, there’s nothing stopping the ISPs from pushing their services on us without such restrictions. It’s so mind-mindbogglingly corrupt, you’d think this was something out of a prime time TV show.

This is something we should all be keeping an eye on. As we use the internet to enjoy more and more content, the potential for us paying higher premiums goes up.

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