You may have seen the issue of ‘Net Neutrality’ back in the news this week. On Thursday, December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the internet neutrality rules that were put in place in 2015.
If you are new to the concept of Net Neutrality, check out this short video The New York Times posted explaining how it works:
[Read the full NY Times Article]
To summarize, the 2015 net neutrality protections were put in place to prohibit Internet Service Providers (such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon) from blocking or slowing websites or apps. The rules also kept broadband providers from making special deals that would give some websites or apps "priority" over others. This has caused small, medium, and even giant sized companies to worry about how this will affect their online traffic and e-commerce operations.
How Will This Affect Your Business?
There are many people asking this question, and the answers can vary, depending who you ask. The repercussions of the repeal may affect businesses and individuals alike, depending what Internet Service Providers decide to do or not do in the absence of these restrictions.
In an article from Entreprenuer.com, Keegan Green explains his perspective of how the loss of net neutrality could impact small businesses:
As a small business owner, especially one who sells products or services through the internet, you rely heavily on your website to bring in business. Imagine being told by a company like Comcast that in order to allow your users to continue to browse your site at high speeds, you will need to pay a hefty fee for data prioritization. You would almost assuredly not be able to make those payments. On the other hand, your multi-million dollar competitors, whether they be Walmart or another big box store, have almost infinite funds to make sure their website speeds are consistent. This, in effect, could put a small shop out of business because of how important internet traffic is to its bottom line.
[Read the full article from Entreprenuer.com]
In a CNN Tech article, Seth Fiegerman describes both pros and cons to the repeal of net neutrality:
Billion-dollar services like Netflix are not going to disappear overnight without net neutrality. They have large enough audiences and bank accounts to survive in a changing regulatory landscape.
Instead, net neutrality advocates worry how repeal will impact the next Netflix. Upstart companies may struggle to strike deals with providers and pay up to have their content delivered faster. That could fundamentally alter the future internet landscape.
The repeal could change how customers are billed for services, both for good and bad. T-Mobile, for example, was criticized by net neutrality supporters for effectively making it cheaper for customers to stream videos from Netflix and HBO, putting other video services at a disadvantage.
Without net neutrality, internet providers may pursue similar offers more aggressively, which would likely be viewed as a positive by consumers looking to save money on their streaming media.
Yet, some fear it's also possible internet providers will one day begin charging customers more to access services like Netflix that are currently included as part of your monthly bill.
[Read the full article on CNN Tech]
The debate on net neutrality will certainly be an ongoing one- and though changes to how you and your business experience the internet may be a long ways down the road, it is always good to think about your digital marketing strategy. If you have questions, or are looking to grow your business and need a strategic thinking partner, please connect with us – we are here to help.