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Net Neutrality Affects Us All
We are in the marketing business. A large portion of that business, of course, revolves around various forms of online marketing and advertising. We blog, we build websites, we design banner ads, we manage/participate in various social media platforms. So the issue of net neutrality is of great interest to us as it has a direct effect on our business.
But the issue of net neutrality affects me personally as well. I have become a bit of a “web-addicted” creature. I rely on internet access pretty much 24-7: From my Netflix subscription to my Amazon Instant Video to the various functions I perform with my laptop, iPad and iPhone each day, I probably spend more time each day connected to the internet than not.
What is Net Neutrality?
Simply put, net neutrality means that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all web traffic equally. In other words, they can’t slow down streaming sites like Netflix simply because Netflix cuts into their own business (ahem, COMCAST), nor can they charge companies for the right to have their content provided to consumers on a sort of “Internet fast-lane” – leaving behind those unwilling to pay for this “fast-lane” privilege.
What would the loss of net neutrality mean for you?
Business owners - if you are offering content that competes with a website or service that can afford to pay the ISP’s for fast-lane privileges, it could affect you greatly. Think of all the online retailers already struggling to compete with a behemoth like Amazon.com. Now imagine that Amazon.com gets special privileges from the ISP’s. Get the picture?
Individuals - I’m a perfect example of an individual who could be greatly affected if my ISP was able to block or slow certain content. I no longer subscribe to cable TV in my home, so a lot of what I choose to watch is streamed via Netflix or Amazon. Plus, as I said, my family uses the internet heavily both at home and at work. I shudder to think what would happen to my options for working, online shopping, or online entertainment if net neutrality is not preserved.
Start-ups/Entrepreneurs/Innovators - The effect that the loss of net neutrality would have on innovation is, perhaps, most concerning of all. Imagine that some college kids right now have an idea for the “next YouTube” or the “next Facebook” or some other platform that we can’t yet imagine. Without major funding, these startups won’t have access to the internet “fast lane” – and will likely die on the vine.
Net Neutrality is good for competition
As it is, ISPs are practically monopolies in many areas. I know that where I live (and where my office is), we have only one choice if we want internet access. Now, in addition to having no choice of ISPs, internet consumers are looking at the possibility of that same ISP basically determining which sites you can use. The new rules proposed by the FCC will give Internet Service Providers the ability to give preferential treatment to specific entertainment outlets, specific retailers, etc. depending on whether those outlets have the ability to pay the ISPs for this “premium,” “fast lane” treatment. Though the FCC claims that the ISPs will be required to have a certain level of transparency about the deals they make, I don’t put a lot of faith in either the ISPs or the FCC – or the media, for that matter – to provide that information to the public.
Internet Service Providers have a conflict of interest
Comcast owns NBC Universal, which includes 30 cable networks, 26 local TV stations and part of the streaming service Hulu. Verizon is launching an online video service. Do we believe that the content they’re providing will be treated the same as all other content under the proposed rules? I know I don’t.
The US is already falling behind when it comes to high-speed internet
In other developed countries such as South Korea and Japan, internet subscribers are offered speeds up to 100 times what most of us in the US have access to. Not only that, but they also pay a fraction of what we do for service. So, in the US, we’re paying more and getting less. The lack of competition among ISPs has made it so they have no incentive to offer us better speeds and/or lower prices: if we want internet access, we don’t have a choice.
And now, in addition to having little to no choice among providers, those providers will determine the quality of the content we receive.
President Obama promised to fight for net neutrality, and we need to hold him to that promise.
Just make sure your voice is heard.
May 06, 2014
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