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What is Net Neutrality?

 , updated on November 14, 2016
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic is treated equally regardless of content, user, device, protocol or source. It refers to laws and regulations that require telecom companies to offer open access to the internet without deciding to make some services slower than others or banning services outright. In some cases, the term net neutrality is applied to government controls on internet. The following are common interpretations of the net neutrality principle.


In many areas of the world, internet services are a monopoly or are controlled by a few large telecom companies. Net neutrality is designed to prevent telecom companies from using this position to block competition. For example, a telecom company could force users to use their streaming media services by making all competing streaming media services slow.

Political Freedom

Fully implemented, net neutrality prevents companies or governments from silencing critics by blocking content.

Economic Growth

Net neutrality may promote economic growth by awarding innovation. For example, customers can pick the search engine they prefer as opposed to having it decided by their telecom company.

Equipment Usage

Net neutrality has been interpreted to allow users to attach whatever devices they see fit to their internet connection such as a computer of their choosing.


Net neutrality allows customers to use security tools such as VPN to connect to an office network. In some countries, telecom companies have blocked VPN at times because it may prevent the telecom company from viewing your traffic.

Price Discrimination

Net neutrality prevents telecoms from implementing certain types of price discrimination such as charging users more to stream media or use a VPN over their connection.

Network Management

Telecom firms may state that they need to slow down or ban certain types of access to manage their network. There are other ways to manage network capacity such as simply imposing bandwidth limits and charging for exceeding such limits.


The public internet is the most significant collection of knowledge ever assembled. Nations, states or cities that have only a partial view of the internet may be at a knowledge disadvantage. For example, if a local telecom company offers only one social network platform because that company paid a fee to exclude all others.
Overview: Net Neutrality
DefinitionThe principle that all internet traffic is treated equally regardless of content, user, device, protocol or source.
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