Why Net Neutrality is Worth Fighting For
Net neutrality shows up in the news cycle every so often as various pieces of legislation come against it by attempting to limit the unrestricted and free availability of online content. So far, we’re fortunate to still have net neutrality in place. Seeing how a move away from net neutrality would be a major blow to SMBs and the free market economy, it’s a topic that’s worth making a fixture on the public’s consciousness.
Essentially, net neutrality is good for business because it levels the playing field for companies to compete with their ideas, rather than with their wallets. If net neutrality were to be eliminated, then Internet service providers would be well within their rights to give preferential treatment to online content that benefits them and their partners who can afford to “pay to play.”
Deep-pocketed companies like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, other telecom companies and cable TV providers are opposed to net neutrality because they have so much to gain from its demise. Let’s use Netflix as an example. The entertainment streaming service accounts for a whopping 37 percent of all Internet traffic, thus drawing ire from ISPs because they’re essentially investing in an infrastructure that’s primarily used to support a service they’re not directly profiting from. If net neutrality were to conveniently disappear, then ISPs that also stream media could intentionally bottleneck Netflix’s traffic while giving preferential treatment to their own competing services.
Also, the potential elimination of net neutrality can hurt SMBs that rely on the Internet to get their message out. For example, if your product or service competes with another company that’s paid an exorbitant amount of money to their ISP for preferential treatment (in the form of a toll system proposed by AT&T to the FCC in 2005), then your online presence just became much more difficult for a potential customer to find. As it stands now, the free Internet we have reflects the values of the free market, i.e., a level playing field where the best idea has room to win.
Advocates of free speech also must remain vigilant in their fight to preserve net neutrality, seeing how any message that’s frowned upon by the paying powers can effectively be squashed.
WIRED Magazine goes so far as to report that the elimination of net neutrality would only provide a short-term boost in revenue for the companies pushing for it. “While abolishing network neutrality might initially increase profits for telecom and cable companies, long-term, it would harm both Internet-focused companies and consumers. Telecom and cable companies claim that consumers will pay less if they abandon network neutrality, but economic models dispute that. Cable and telecom companies want to kill network neutrality to increase their profits, not decrease prices for consumers. Without net neutrality, consumers would be forced to access a distorted Internet, where information is prioritized according to the financial interests of telecom and cable companies.”
While there’s currently no bill on the table to kill off net neutrality, the major changes going on in Washington DC open the door for anti-net neutrality lobbyists (backed with seemingly limitless corporate dollars) to make their move, again. Therefore, it’s important to not sleep on this issue and be ever vigilant in making your voice heard in order to preserve the public’s right to a free and fair Internet.
How do you think your business would fare if net neutrality were to disappear? Share with us your opinions in the comments below, and feel free to share this blog to help spread awareness of the importance of net neutrality.