FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made it clear that he wants to eliminate Net Neutrality, and the vote is scheduled for later today. In short, if it passes, the Title II classification of internet providers would cease. That would remove any legal barriers the FCC has for stopping internet providers from throttling a person’s service, blocking users from certain websites, and implementing paid “fast lanes.” This could also lead to new limitations on free speech. All of these should be of concern to the average American.
It is clear that corporate megaliths like Comcast will benefit from the abolition of net neutrality, but how will small business people fare under these changes?
If a good portion of your business takes place online, this could definitely impact your bottom line. Consumers like to save money, but they also don’t like to wait. If a site becomes noticeably slower and more cumbersome to navigate, people will be less inclined to use it.
Theoretically, if your business is deemed to be in competition with say, AT & T, there would be nothing to stop that company from slowing down their subscribers’ access to your website. In addition to declining sales, fewer visitors per day will also cause your site’s search ranking to sink, making it less likely to attract new traffic. Also, if you host promotional videos, slower speed will cause them to freeze and buffer, leading to fewer views and people exiting prematurely.
Of course, should these changes occur, your business would likely have the option to pay the provider a higher fee and not face these speed limitations. But who wants to pay extra for their internet, particularly when it seems likely that said fees will regularly increase? It’s essentially the equivalent of paying protection money to the mob and being subject to their whims.
It is possible that such a situation will motivate start-up companies to offer cheaper packages aimed at the small business person. Alas, everything about this bill seems like a handout to the big boys, so it is tough to say whether such upstarts could even get enough of a foothold to make a go of it.