Net Neutrality Matters for Your Firm
Net neutrality is one of those boring topics that it’s easy to tune out, but here’s why you shouldn’t. The way this issue is decided by the FCC could have a significant impact on your firm’s online presence, and on how much it costs you to maintain a positive experience for those who access your website and online services.
Currently under consideration is a proposal known as Restoring Internet Freedom, which would end the current rules requiring all internet traffic to be treated equally. If adopted, the proposal would allow internet service providers to selectively throttle or block some content, and to charge a premium to those who want their content to stay in the “fast lane.”
While the official comment period closed August 30, the FCC continues to collect and post comments submitted by the public. These post-deadline comments won’t be included in the official record but they will be seen. Some 22 million comments came in before the final deadline, which was extended by two weeks in response to pressure from 10 different public interest groups.
Ending net neutrality would mean that to compete on a level playing field, small firms will need to pony up whatever added costs ISPs choose to add to ensure web traffic isn’t relegated to sub-optimal speeds. That policy puts small and mid-sized firms at a serious disadvantage relative to the biggest firms (with the deepest pockets) as they work to reach potential clients and market their services.
It’s not just small business owners who are alarmed by this prospect. Even mega-corporation Apple has adopted a strong stance in defense of net neutrality. The company’s US head of public policy, Cynthia Hogan, sent a letter to the FCC that details Apple’s position. She says,
“Providers of online goods and services need assurance that they will be able to reliably reach their customers without interference from the underlying broadband provider.” Without regulation to ensure equal traffic, Hogan posits, “The result would be an internet with distorted competition where online providers are driven to reach deals with broadband providers or risk being stuck in the slow lane and losing customers due to lower quality service.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will host hearings in September as Congress weighs action to remove protections for net neutrality. Major ISPs and internet companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix are invited to testify about their position. Don’t let their voices be the only thing Congress hears as they make decisions about this important issue. To protect your firm’s ability to compete successfully, reach out now to let your senators and representatives know how you feel about net neutrality. Pro or con, your opinion should be one they hear.