Net Neutrality, Explained

As the debate over net neutrality rages on, here's some basic information about how you might be affected.

By Arik Hesseldahl

This story originally appeared on CNBC

Watching "House of Cards," listening to Kayne West's new album or emailing your mother. These daily, instinctive Internet actions are available to all of us anytime, free of charge, in what is known as net neutrality--the concept that Internet providers can't discriminate between different types of content, such as movies and video.

But this level playing field may soon be changing. Network giants, such as telephone and cable companies, are rallying to institute a "tiered" Internet, where broadband providers could offer speedier service and smoother access to those consumers who agree to pay a premium price for it.

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Think of the Internet as a highway with toll booths. Under the old policy of the open Internet, Internet companies weren't allowed to distinguish between one kind of traffic or another. Under the new policies, these Internet providers would be allowed to charge more for different types of traffic, like streaming movies and music. If this happens, you will likely see an increase in your monthly bill.

At this moment the FCC is working on a policy to ensure that Internet providers do not charge differently for consuming different types of content.

If you think a provider has been in violation of the Open Internet rule, you can file a complaint with the FCC.

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