What you should know about net neutrality

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 07/14/2017

We've been seeing a lot about net neutrality in news and in articles recently, but what is net neutrality and how does it affect you? We know that it has to do with creating an open internet, but will it affect us and our businesses?

Let's talk a little bit about what net neutrality is, why it's being threatened, and what will happen if it's dismantled. 

"Net Neutrality is what makes the Internet so great - and so vital for innovation and creativity."

What is net neutrality and why is it an issue now?

When you go online, you expect to pull up any information that you want to. You are in control of your experience. You can expect that in an open internet, your searches won't be slowed down because it isn't favored by your internet service provider.

To sum it up, net neutrality is what preserves our right to communicate freely online. It's protected by Title II, which gives the FCC a stronger authority to prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or interfering with web traffic.

This means that with net neutrality, however you choose to receive information from the internet, the internet service provider can't pick favored content to push down your pipeline. You have the freedom to decide on using Google vs Bing, Netflix or Comcast, or visa versa.

The reason that this issue is coming back into focus is that FCC chairman, and former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai is aiming to dismantle net neutrality.

A New York Times article provides s quote that helps us get an idea of where the policy might be headed. Pai states "Price regulation threatens competition and investment." So what this could mean is that internet service providers will have the power to raise fees for small businesses to have access to their broadband network.

Who would benefit from removing it and how?

If net neutrality policies were to change or be removed, ISBs like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and so on would have the ability to control what content is shown and what is not. 

One possible outcome is that the internet will split into two sections, one where larger companies can afford faster delivery of their content, and one where companies who can't afford this faster lane and will be much, much slower. 

What does it mean for a small business if we dismantle net neutrality?

For smaller businesses who rely on open internet digital marketing, this could become a big issue. If internet service providers were given the authority as gate keeper, it would create incredibly difficult barriers of entry for small businesses who can't afford to be in a faster lane.

Remember when I mentioned raising fees to encourage competition? This could allow them to pick winners and losers in the market, create an uneven playing field for these small companies, and direct traffic to favored companies. We can see the potential threats here.

To conclude:

I wanted to share this video from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver for those who'd like to learn a bit more about it.

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