How Does Net Neutrality Affect Small Business Owners?

Depositphotos_45426235_l-300x240With the possibility of new rules in the future, net neutrality has been a topic of great debate. As a business owner, you should be aware of how these new rules could affect you.

What is Net Neutrality?
Basically, net neutrality keeps Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from being able to control what we see on the web. It keeps things fair and even regardless of the size of your company. With net neutrality a small business owner’s blog can be seen just as quickly as a large company’s post. Whether it’s a video, blog post, or image, it will load the same no matter who you are. People can get online and choose what they would like to see without having someone decide for them.

Open Internet Order
In 2010, the FCC Open Internet Order[1] was put into effect. Its purpose was to prevent discrimination in charges, services, etc. Verizon fought the new rules, and the court agreed saying the FCC doesn’t have the right to enforce net neutrality because the internet isn’t considered a common carrier.

What is the “Fast Track” and how could it affect me?
The FCC is considering a new rule which will jeopardize net neutrality. It will allow the ISPs to offer a “fast track” to deliver content more expeditiously. This will allow businesses to pay extra to have their content be seen faster than others. If the providers offer special services at higher costs the smaller companies may not be able to afford them. This will cause a small business “blind spot”—consumers will be drawn to larger companies (with larger advertising budgets), even if the smaller companies offer better goods and services. Unable to compete, eventually small business will go under.

Advocates of net neutrality are requesting that the FCC reclassify ISP’s as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934  which states that common carriers can’t “make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.”[2] President Obama has spoken in favor of Title II along with many others. The net neutrality docket has become the most popular in FCC history receiving approximately 4 million comments (the previous being Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction with 1.4 million).

Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, has said “Let me be really clear. If prioritization hurts consumers, hurts innovation, hurts competition, degrades service, it’s D.O.A.” Allowing “fast tracks” could definitely hurt all of those things! If new business owners can’t afford to keep their companies in the eye of the public, how will they be able to grow? With larger companies paying more for internet services, they will be charging the consumers more for their products and services and offering less. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, businesses with less than 20 workers made up to 89.8 percent of a total 5.68 million U.S. employer firms.[3] If that 89.8 percent go under, what will we have left? Fortified BIG business America and a dramatic increase in unemployment.

If you are against the abolishment of net neutrality, please contact Chairman Wheeler at: mailto:tom.wheeler@fcc.gov 
Speaking up could save our businesses!

net neutrality

Sources:
1 Wikipedia
The Daily Dot
3 SBE Council (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council)

Related links…
Copyblogger – What Net Neutrality Means For Your Business and Why You Need to Act Now to Protect It
Wikepedia – Net Neutrality
Tech Times- Net Neutrality Decision to Be Made in Early 2015
The Washington Post- The Next Big Turning Point in the Net Neutrality Debate