Editor Emeritus John Fontana on Net Neutrality: End times for the open Internet?

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

More than a bit off topic, folks, but it's relevant to just about everyone online.

In the early 1990's, there was an entity available to computer-owning consumers called Prodigy. It (and others that weren't as prominent on the market) wasn't exactly an Internet access portal, but it was. Through limited means and a controlled gateway, people were connected online at 2400 and 4800 bits per second -€ such blazing speed through regular phone lines.

Prodigy's controlled locations were where people congregated to see what news headlines and stories they were exposed to. The World Wide Web wasn't a known aspect and... well, as far as I know there wasn't much (if anything) on it that is commonly available in the modern online world as you know it today.

The same stuff played out with America Online, where the access point was the centerpiece of connecting online. The differences were limited sales options and access to the World Wide Web. Of course you had to know what the World Wide Web was to try to do anything with it. As a teenager, I didn't. I don't know how many out there did.

Here we are, so many years later. Could you imagine that happening? Not having straightforward access to the web and sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Linked In, Spotify, Amazon, Netflix, Wikipedia, Reddit, YouTube, Pinterest, Vox, Raw Charge (which, by the way, I founded in 2009), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...

Instead you'd be pointed to a message board/chat service or upstart social network specifically for those who rely on Verizon, Charter, AT.&T., Comcast or another telecommunication company for Internet access. Your online social-sphere becoming divided by way of Internet service differences.

Your media (online steams of music and video (and yes, podcasts and sports stuff too) access becoming limited by way of contract deals between telecom companies and the entertainment industry and sports leagues. Your shopping online forced to go through specific online stores owned by the conglomerate that happens to be your Internet Service Provider.

This is what killing Net Neutrality helps set up. While people are hearing about "speed bumps" and "toll roads" -- different ways for ISPs to make more money from the Internet as you know it, by slowing speeds and limiting access -- that's just a limited way of looking at how far and broad the end of Net Neutrality can go.

There isn't talk of how this could affect, stymie or stop business tied to the Internet, like simple web hosting companies. What happens if mom-and-pop stores face fees just to present their site online (and I'm not talking hosting payments; I'm talking about ISPs charging them so that people can access)? What happens when this plays out for artists, small companies (be they white-collar or local blue-collar), bloggers (ahem, hi), gaming sites and so many more? It's going to lead to job loss and economic issues with businesses shutting down.

Why? What's the big driver in the end of Net Neutrality? It's quite simple, really: Profit and the thought that exploiting Internet popularity and general use will be an economic boom for those in control.

Many sites out there are supposed to be speaking up about the end of Net Neutrality as the December 14 vote fast approaches, while encouraging users/readers/participants/fans (ahem, hi) as well as sending a clear message to lawmakers to protect Net Neutrality instead of allowing the Federal Communications Commission to do away with it. It's imperative that we have an accessible internet that's open for operation to the masses and not simply those willing to pay for priority accessibility (be it from the user end or the web).

If you're willing to join the cause, go to this site to call your representative:

This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.

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