Here is my prediction:
The FCC deregulated the Internet today. The first changes you will see, in early 2018, will be offers from your internet provider (Comcast will probably be first), offering the “Gamer Package” or “Streaming Package”.
These will be offers to specific types of internet users, offering higher internet speeds to make their experience better. “Always getting pwned at CounterStrike? Upgrade to our Gamer Package ($49.95/mo) for better gaming speed!” for example.
To ensure you are excited to hear this new sales pitch, the following will happen:
Over the holidays, there will be reports of “network saturation”, and mysterious slowdowns when streaming Netflix and YouTube content that will be attributed to “unusually high levels of network activity during the holiday week”. Gamers will rail at Microsoft because their servers are “too slow”, and the games people got for Xmas are not working well in online play mode.
Geeks Getting Ignored (again)
Interestingly, geeky news outlets like ArsTechnica will report that their detailed network analyses will show that the slowdowns occurred only on traffic from certain services, through specific ISPs. These will, not surprisingly, be services like Netflix, streaming to Comcast customers in large metropolitan areas.
A suspicious number of comments on these articles will be talking about how ISPs need to create dedicated pipes for these games, so the traffic doesn’t get slowed down. These commenters will also mention that ISPs can’t afford the constant upgrades necessary to stay up to date with the latest streaming needs...
Comcast will then release a statement in January that their detailed network analysis showed a much larger than expected number of users, and promise that they are making upgrades to their equipment and services so that “customers can get the streaming experience they want.”
By February or March, Comcast will roll out their new “high-speed” plans “in response to customer demand”.
And everyone that got a new xbox for Christmas will have to upgrade their internet service if they want to be competitive in their favorite online games, or watch Netflix/YouTube/Hulu without buffering, etc.
Once Comcast rolls out their pricing plan, the other big names will roll out their “fast lane” plans at identical price points by mid-year.
And in six months the internet will have gone from the open and accessible tool we have known for 20 years, to a set of “walled gardens” you must pay to enter, and any web site or app you use that is not owned by a Fortune 500 company, will be painfully slow to use. So you will move away from those apps, and toward the mass-market tools that the ISP monopolies have decided you will use, because they are the only apps that are a useable speed.
Yeah, sure, there will be lawsuits trying to block the deregulation of the internet by the FCC, and prevent this future. The Ninth Circuit Court will rule in favor of Net Neutrality, and then be overturned by another court in another jurisdiction (cough, cough, Texas, cough, cough) that will allow business to continue while the legality of the decision to deregulate is being litigated (see: the Muslim ban), and then SCOTUS will rush through a decision - with Gorsuch as the tie-breaker - that will uphold the regulation and make any effort to apply any sort of regulation on the internet as “anti-competitive and illegal.”