Battle for the Net: Why is my internet slow today?

Internet and technology firms are protesting against new net neutrality rules in the US by simulating a slowing down of their websites and services. You might notice that lots of the things you try to do online today seem slow. But it’s not your internet connection, your router or your computer – the internet is on protest.

The protest is about the US legislation due to be brought in by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) over what’s called “net neutrality” – essentially whether the internet should run at one speed for all companies and services, or should be divided into a fast and a slow lane.

If the legislation is successfully passed, companies including Google, YouTube, Netflix and Amazon will likely have to pay for a higher speed internet connection to continue delivering streaming video and other internet services at the same rate they do now to customers and avoid users being infuriated by slow loading times and stuttering video.

Why is it slow today?

The 10 September is Internet Slowdown day, organised by Battle for the Net with a collection of 68 different internet companies and organisations to illustrate what the internet could be like if the laws are passed and the internet is divided into a fast and a slow lane.

What’s happening?

The internet isn’t really slowing down. The companies, which include Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Vimeo and Mozilla are simply simulating the fact, and will place symbols like the spinning pinwheel or other loading-style animations on their site to make it seem like the internet is slowing down.

Who’s involved?

Almost all the big-name US streaming or image sites are taking part, including Netflix and Vimeo, as are image site Imgur, Tumblr, news sites like Digg and Reddit, plus Firefox browser developer Mozilla and WordPress, which powers some of the biggest blogs on the internet. Twitter and the crowdfunding site Kickstarter are also taking part in the protest.

The majority of the companies are based in the US but also serve users in the UK and around the world.

What can I do?

The protest will try to illustrate what the internet could be like with the new US legislation, and will lead users to sign a petition to the US Congress to stop the proposed rules from the FCC.

For those that simply want rid of the banners, loading screens and simulated slow internet, wait a day and it should all be over. Of course, your internet might actually be slow today, but rebooting your router normally fixes that.



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