If you want to see what America will be like if it ditches net neutrality, just look at Portugal

  • The FCC is planning to ditch net neutrality, which requires internet providers to treat all data online equally.
  • Portgual's internet providers shows what the American internet could look like if net neutrality is scrapped.
  • One company charges people more for additional data based on the kind of app they want to use, from messaging to video.

On Tuesday, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it plans to vote on an order to roll back Obama-era rules that guarantee net neutrality.

Simply put, net neutrality means that all data on the internet is treated equally. An ISP can't prioritize certain companies or types of data, charge users more to access certain websites and apps, or charge businesses for preferential access.

Advocates of net neutrality argue that it ensures a level playing-field for everyone on the internet — while telecoms firms are largely against it because of the additional restrictions it places on them.

But with the Republican-majority FCC likely to vote in favor of repeal on December 14, what might the American internet look like without net neutrality? Just look at Portugal.

In the country, wireless carrier Meo offers a package in the country that is very different to what's available in the US. Users pay for traditional "data" — then on top of that, they pay for additional packages based on the kind of data and apps they want to use on the internet.

MEO

Really into messaging? Then pay the €4.99 ($5.86, or £4.43) per month and get more data for apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime. Prefer social networks — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger, and so on? That'll be another €4.99 every month. Video apps like Netflix and YouTube are available as another add-on, while Music (Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, etc.) is another, as is Email & Cloud (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, iCoud, etc.).

This kind of model is dangerous, net neutrality's defenders argue, because it risks creating a two-tier system that harms competition. People will naturally just use big apps included in the bundles that they've already paid for, while upstart challengers will be left out in the cold.

RELATED: People who might run against Trump in 2020

44 PHOTOS
People who might run against Trump in 2020
See Gallery
People who might run against Trump in 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Sen. Kamala Davis (D-Calif.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

(Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

(Photo credit MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

(Photo credit ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

(Photo by James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Environmental activist Tom Steyer

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton 

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

(Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

(Photo credit FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Former first lady Michelle Obama

(Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Gov. Jerry Brown

(Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Caruso )

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey

(Photo by Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Former Vice President Al Gore

(Photo credit DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images,)

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

For example: If you love watching video and Netflix is included in the video bundle but Hulu isn't, you'll likely try to save money by just using Netflix — making it harder for its competitors.

And without net neutrality, big apps could theoretically even pay telecoms firms for preferential access, offering them money that smaller companies just can't compete with. (It's not clear if any of the companies named above have paid for preferential access.) An ISP could even refuse to grant access to an app at all unless they paid up.

The Meo example was originally shared on Twitter by California congressman Ro Khanna back in October. "In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages," he wrote.

"A huge advantage for entrenched companies, but it totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation. This is what's at stake and that's why we have to save net neutrality."

Technically, Portugal is bound by the EU's net neutrality rules, but there are loopholes that allow certain kinds pricing schemes like those outlined above.

Yonatam Zunger, an ex-Google employee, recently retweeted it, adding: "This isn't even the worst part of ending net neutrality. The worst part happens when ISPs say 'we don't like this site's politics,' or 'this site competes with us,' and block or throttle it."

5Etfw" columns="1" hidemedia="No"%

NOW WATCH: Some iPhone users can't type the letter 'i' — here's what's going on and how to fix it

See Also:

SEE ALSO: The FCC will vote on a new order to repeal net neutrality protections on December 14

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.