Back in December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rescinded the internet usage rules known as “Net Neutrality.” It was an emotionally charged political issue that caused outrage and sparked debate. Rescinding these rules could have a major impact on internet usage, and small businesses could be seriously impacted by this as well.
The Net Neutrality rules focused on making sure all internet service providers treated internet data equitably. For example, say Comcast (which owns NBC) is your internet service provider and you want to watch a video on ABC’s website. With the rules rescinded, Comcast COULD now slow down or restrict your access to watch ABC television online.
No one has said that this WILL happen. In fact, internet service providers have gone out of their way to say the opposite. But, there are a number of ways these rescinded rules could affect your business. Here are a few of the possible scenarios:
- Internet service providers could charge businesses more per e-commerce transaction.
- Internet providers may make it difficult to use certain software. If a program your business uses is owned by a competitor, an internet provider could charge more to access this tool or slow down your access to servers.
- If an internet service provider decides to price high speed internet packages dramatically higher than low speed options, some businesses may not be able to afford access. This would hinder a website’s load time and frustrate users who might then visit another website.
Proponents of rescinding the rules say that internet service providers won’t disrupt data equity because they don’t want to restrict the digital free market. They claim that reducing regulations will stimulate innovation and growth.
The truth is, this situation is far from over. It’s expected that this will be contested in court or that the United States Congress might step in and create regulatory rules.
It may be months or years before we can measure the true impact of rescinding Net Neutrality. There will certainly be more to come, but in the short-term pay close attention to the quality of your internet access and the amount you are charged. Look to see if there is a difference from what you are getting today, and how it affects your business.
Nick Pizzolato is the Marketing Content Manager at Wicked Local Media Solutions. For questions, topics for future blogs, or to share your favorite moment from the film “Back to the Future,” email him at email@example.com.