Net Neutrality: Why is it Important for my Online Business?
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On May 15, the United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made an announcement that is set to have a major impact on the future of the Internet. The FCC has released a number of proposals that would affect the ways in which major Internet Service Providers like AT&T and Verizon can operate. Under its new proposals, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be allowed to charge content providers and websites special rates for faster service. Under such a system, for example, ISP’s would be able to approach websites like Facebook and Netflix and offer faster website access for a fee.
But why you might be asking, is this important for online business owners and for the average Internet user? Why exactly should I care?
Proposals like these are far more significant than you might imagine.
The most significant consequence of such a proposal is that it would turn the Internet into a two-tiered system. On the one hand, you would have the major players: Facebook, Netflix, Google, Youtube. And then, on the other hand, you would have the smaller websites and online businesses. Under such a system, many smaller websites and online businesses would be unable to compete with the larger, more-established companies. Smaller companies would be unable to pay the special fee required by the ISPs’ and would – as a result – be forced to contend with suboptimal upload speeds and mediocre Internet access. This, undoubtedly, would drive potential customers to the more established companies who have easier and more efficient website access.
Such a proposal will have a major impact on the potential for smaller businesses and online start-ups to succeed and grow.
Proposals like these – needless to say – are also in direct conflict with the spirit of an open and equal Internet. By allowing ISP’s the power to discriminate against websites and content providers on the basis of revenue is the first step on a very slippery slope. Those of us interested in the future of the Internet will be watching closely how such proposals are received.