Net Neutrality for the Small Business Owner
“All traffic on the internet must be treated equal.”
Net neutrality is the principle that denotes ISP suppliers should enable and allow access to any content, applications, and businesses on the web regardless of source without blocking or favoring any of the above. It has been under attack in the last few years, and the arguments for and against have been stacking up. The internet providers should not charge businesses for their information, or to block or slow down the access to other websites they don’t like.
Net neutrality is a big deal for you as a private citizen. Most of us have strong opinions about it when it comes to our privacy. What about for our businesses though? What are the arguments for and against net neutrality as a small business owner? It may surprise you that your business location may influence on which side of the debate you want to be on – as a small business owner.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Most US citizens are in favor of net neutrality, depending on the poll between 75-83%. As a small business owner, you would want to follow this demographic. However, it really depends on where your business is located. Let’s look at why your location may want you to be against net neutrality.
According to over 60 major ISP suppliers, net neutrality hurts development of broadband services in poor economic areas, preventing them from offering such services to those areas. As a small business owner in a lower economic area, you may not have access to broadband because of this. With the removal of net neutrality, you could find your business in a position of being able to get broadband. Depending on which industry you are in, this could mean getting more done in less time or at the very least, a higher level of productivity.
In another example, perhaps your business is in a an affluent economic section, but you don’t need broadband connectivity. This may not be an option in your area, where you are stuck paying a premium for broadband that you never use. Proponents of striking down net neutrality claim that without net neutrality, competition will drive ISP suppliers to offer more competitive rates and various speed services.
Things like this should be a part of the decision. However, as stated earlier in this article, the choice depends on where your business is and in what industry. If your business uses the internet a lot and depends on stable, fast broadband connections, then you may want to be on the side of net neutrality. Without net neutrality, there is no regulation that will prevent ISP suppliers to throttling your use or adding on premium charges for services you already have.
It is believed that the rural population is already at a steep disadvantage when the broadband infrastructure is considered. Around 11 million US people do not have access to the broadband. Sadly, several rural broadband users have only a handful of choices in terms of selecting an ISP. In case the FCC ends net neutrality, it would further damage competition in rural places. Eradicating net neutrality will smash the competitiveness of rural (and even urban) small companies which depend on the web to reach their clients. Majority of companies are unable to afford payments. Consequently, they would be struggling to compete with bigger businesses.
Urban companies may additionally lose access to the online resources that power them. Without net neutrality, ISPs can provide tiered service strategies that throttle the customers access to certain sites, or even block specific information altogether. These limitations will influence content providers and customers alike.
As a small business owner though the biggest value that net neutrality brings you is that you have the equal footing as your competitors, both big and small. You have the same opportunities that they have. Without it, ISP suppliers could provide your competition a special treatment.
What exactly do you think? Well, the internet without Net Neutrality cannot really be the Internet. The open internet has basically offered a great platform to those who have historically been shut out, and it encourages innovation. Would you like to be a part of a closed-down network where phone and cable companies control everything and decide what kind of sites, applications, or companies should succeed?
Feel free to share your thoughts.