The rules that govern the internet and what kind of access you have to certain sites could be changing very soon.

Most of us get on our devices without thinking too much about how the back end works.

Your device connects to your internet provider, usually a cable or phone company. Comcast is the biggest one in the nation.

That provider connects you to all the online services you want to use.

"Net Neutrality" isn't that complicated-- you're looking at a basic picture of it.


Notice how all of the connections to these services are equal. You get decent speed watching a show on Netflix or a live video on Facebook.

The idea is that the internet is like a utility. You pay for internet and you get connected to everything on it the same way.

So what's the other way?

*It* says things don't need to be equal. *It* says your provider is a business and it should be allowed to make deals with online companies.

One example is called a "fast lane."

Amazon, lets say comes out with a hot new show and it wants to pump it out in Super Hi-Def to everyone.

Amazon would pay Comcast for a better connection to you to handle all that data. To help make that happen, providers like Comcast could do what's called "throttling."

Amazon pays for a better connection, so Comcast might slow down the connection that goes to Netflix or Facebook for example, because Amazon paid for better speed to reach you.

And the most dramatic extreme is "blocking." Say Facebook is taking up lots of data, Comcast wants them to pay up. They can't reach a deal. Comcast could cut them off and now you don't have Facebook at all if you're a Comcast customer.

A big argument for this new way is that it would encourage new technology-- like the next Super-Duper-Hi-Def, 3D, total immersion show that Amazon might cook up.

A big argument against is that if a new company creates something awesome, it may not ever be able to connect to you, because startups don't have piles of cash to pay for a bigger pipeline.

So it never gets off the ground.

It's a real difference in philosophy with big money on both sides. And both claiming to be on the side of freedom.

One side claims freedom of competition in the marketplace.

The other freedom of access... to the internet itself.

The FCC's vote on net neutrality is slated for next Thursday. It is expected to pass. Experts say net neutrality advocates will likely take the FCC to court if that happens.