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Internet Slowdown Day: Why You're Seeing Loading Screens

Calm down! Your Internet connection isn't actually slower today. Those loading screens are part of an awareness campaign for net neutrality.
Posted at 10:33 AM, Sep 10, 2014

Net neutrality supporters get their day of protest and online businesses like Netflix hope that spinning wheel of frustration — ahem, we mean loading — puts pressure on lawmakers.

VIMEO SPOKESWOMAN: "Net neutrality is all about a free and open internet."

Wednesday marks Internet Slowdown Day. While your internet connection won't actually be slower, the guttural response to those spinning wheels is what the online companies are banking on.

Battleforthenet.com, for instance, posted a one-day-only code for web developers to show this on their sites Wednesday. It also encouraged people to change their Twitter photos or post photos implying internet service providers are greedy corporations.

The Federal Communications Commission is currently taking public comments on the issue of net neutrality, but time is running out and neutrality supporters are making one last push for more comments before the mid-September deadline.

Net neutrality is the idea all Internet content and data should be treated and delivered to customers equally — a hot button issue for a country that's gone far beyond an "increasingly online" society.

DAVID CARR, THE NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: "Who gets to go fast and who gets to go slow? If my message comes to you really slowly and another person's message comes to you quickly and directly, whose message is going to be heard?"

Neutrality has several high profile defenders.

JOHN OLIVER, HBO'S "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER": "The internet in its current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that."

YOUTUBE / EXTRA CREDITS: "NBC is owned by Comcast. NBC competes with service like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Why wouldn't they make access to those sites laggy and cumbersome while giving full blazing bandwidth to their own products?"

But the ISP's and their supporters argue that kind of leveraging has never happened before and won't happen in the future. Plus, they bring up the undeniable issue many of the online services that want equal treatment hog far more bandwidth than any other sites.

An analysis of bandwidth use by Sandvine in May showed Netflix took up more than a third of all downstream usage during primetime hours. Combined with YouTube, the two sites alone accounted for 47.4% of traffic.

STEVEN CROWDER, NATIONAL CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH: "Let's say one person wants to mail a letter. Now, person number two wants to mail a kettlebell. Now, you can't charge person number two any more to ship that heavy, cumbersome kettlebell."

Once ISP's like Comcast and Verizon slowed its delivery speed, Netflix did grudgingly start paying more for preferred status.

Which brings us back to Internet Slowdown Day and the hope of Netflix, Reddit, Vimeo and other online services that more people contact the FCC.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has set a September 15 deadline for public input on net neutrality.