The most important FCC vote of our lifetime is about to happen! The Elimination of “Net Neutrality”
On Feb 26, 2015 the FCC will vote to save “Net Neutrality” or let Comcast and other ISPs create Internet slow lanes. Some members of Congress, on behalf of their Cable donors, are trying to stop the FCC from protecting the Internet we love.
So lets discuss what is net neutrality and how it will effect small business and large businesses. Currently we live in a net neutral world. Everyone was a start up at one point. Netflix, Facebook even Google all had the opportunity to grow because of net neutrality. Basically net neutrality gives everyone a level playing field on the web. Whether you are starting a new business and want to start a new company website net neutrality essentially lets you do what you want without any taxation or throttling down the speed of your website. Its good to know that Google, Facebook, Netflix and many others support keeping net neutrality. Net neutrality benefits Google in many ways. The elimination of net neutrality could negatively impact Google in ways Google does not even realize.
So what would a world without net neutrality be like. Well lets look at the first effected. Netflix is a good example because they are a big organization however they could be destroyed if net neutrality ceases to exist. What large companies who deliver internet (ISPs) impose to do is essential charge a tax on websites that produce large amounts of traffic. For example facebook, netflix, twitter, linkedin, etc. If these groups do not pay this tax then they will either be blocked by Comcast, Verizon and any other ISPs or their speed will be reduced so that users can barely use the site. Yes that is correct an internet service provider can control the speed of specific websites using simple algorithms and code in order to determine what the user can do and how fast they can do it. Or an internet service provider can completely block a website or block your emails. If net neutrality is eliminated then the next step will be for monoply ISPs to charge for each email you send or block your emails if they feel your not paying the premium.
So how does this effect the daily user. Most of the popular websites are free. But you can pretty much expect that to change very quickly. Without net neutrality these websites now have to pay Comcast and many other large internet service providers in order to keep their services available to the public. The first thing that will happen is the popular sites will need to charge customers. So that great price Netflix is offering will never be the same. In addition to what you already pay for your internet service you will now have to pay even more to use services provided by the web. We could get into the thousands of free services but basically we are talking about social networking, organizational tools, educational tools, etc. The list is essentially endless.
Now lets look at start ups. So you have a great idea for a websites. Maybe a new social network, maybe a new online bakery. Whatever it is with net neutrality you have the opportunity to grow this business without anyone interfering. Now lets eliminate net neutrality which is what Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and AT&T propose to do. As soon as you generate traffic to your site you will be hit with an additional surcharge. The threat to you if you do not pay this surcharge is a complete shutdown of your site. Blocked by the giants so that no one can reach your website. Eventually what the ISPs will also do is whoever pays more will get moved into the fast lane. The fast lane means they will give your site speed and access priority. So start ups you better be ready to shell out some major dough in order to even have a chance at reaching the public with your new website.
The issue of net neutrality is simple. The monopoly internet service providers are loosing profits due to websites like Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. Lets face it Netflix has a lot more to offer with better service than standard cable from Comcast could ever provide. No commercials and movies on demand in high definition for a fraction of the cost of standard cable. If you are already annoyed by Youtube commercials which have been on the rise for the past few years just wait, if net neutrality is eliminated commercials and additional advertising will dominate your life. How else will Netflix be able to afford the surcharge from an internet service provider just to reach their customers.
Its an internet fast lane for only the internet service providers. It may not pass this time around but I am sure the topic of net neutrality will be voted on time and time again until eventually the ISPs win. After all they have the money to pay their way to the elimination of net neutrality. Future generations will not have the opportunities that the internet provided us for the last two decades. What I expect to see is a reduction of amazing ideas like facebook and start ups will be forced to focus on businesses that are not internet related.
I am only giving small examples of how the internet will change. The attack on internet freedom will persist until ISPs can figure out a way to increase their profits and eliminate competition. The internet is actually an ISPs number one competition which is the very service they provide. Anyone could predict that they would want more control over what they are providing. The concept of paying for every email you send will soon be a reality.
The impact of eliminating net neutrality is far more complicated and globally interrelated than most might think. If ISPs can control content with surcharges and taxation the impact will be felt around the world maybe even greatly effecting economies, global decisions, online marketing, online banking, non-profits and unemployment. A majority of Americans are unaware of these changes or to busy to care and will only see the impact years later. With already unstable economies for the past decade around the world if net neutrality is eliminated the impact might not be felt for years but in the long run it will for surely make the bigs bigger and virtually eliminate the smalls and start ups. Unfortunately this is a trend that the United States has been seeing for the past decade with no end in site.