If you’ve been paying attention at all lately, you’ve probably heard about FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s plans to gut the net neutrality rules established in 2015.
These regulations currently prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Time Warner, and Comcast from charging companies for priority access to the internet, forcing ISPs to treat all internet traffic equally.
The FCC wants to reverse these regulations, allowing ISPs to set their own rules for how they handle traffic on the internet.
Why Should You Care?
The reason is simple - net neutrality protects the ability of businesses to compete on the internet.
ISPs would be allowed under proposed new rules to charge companies for access to “high speed” lanes, prioritizing chosen traffic above other non-paying websites.
If a business cannot or will not pay this fee, then it will take longer for that business's content to load.
Website load times have a dramatic effect on user experience, which can affect the bottom line.
How Does Net Neutrality Affect My Business?
79% of users are less likely to visit a site that loads slowly, and 40% of users will leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
The longer a site takes to load, the less visitors it will receive.
For every second a site’s load time improves, conversions increase by 7%.
This means that just a few seconds in extra load time can have a serious impact on a business’s profits.
(Related Article: SEO Speed(wagon): 3 Tips to Improve Your Website’s Page Speed)
The New Cost of Doing Businesses
Reversal of net neutrality will essentially add one more expense to doing business. Now businesses will be forced to pay ISPs to not slow website load times.
Allowing ISPs to charge businesses for priority access to the internet is a de facto tax on all businesses with an internet presence (which is all businesses).
If your business is successful enough to absorb new costs like this, then congratulations, but if you’re like most businesses, then every dollar matters.
What’s the Alternative?
The alternative is to be relegated to a second (or even third) tier of internet sites.
These tiers would see their traffic slowed as priority is given to upper tiers (companies who are willing or able to pay these new fees).
The practical effect would be to drive many smaller companies out of business by restricting consumer access to their websites.
What if Your Business Competes With One Owned or Operated by an ISP?
If a business competes with one owned or operated by an ISP, then its chances of success are virtually zero (pun intended).
It is in the ISP’s best interest to prioritize their business’s traffic over the competition. In this case, a fee might not be enough to level the playing field.
What About Industry Leaders?
Small businesses in competition with any larger business would be at an immediate disadvantage as well. Any larger business could just pay an ISP more money to get priority service.
A pay-to-play business model would be adapted, driving smaller businesses out of the market. This will stifle competition, driving up prices and slowing the pace of innovation.
Free and Open Markets Are Vital
Free markets mean that no agency or company has control over the ability of businesses to enter and compete in a market.
The elimination of net neutrality rules would signal the end of a free market economy as practiced on the internet.
Competition is good for both the consumer and businesses. Competition leads to lower prices and more innovation.
Free markets thrive on competition, and the elimination of net neutrality rules will kill the free market system now in place on the internet.
Make Your Voice Heard
We do not believe that the reversal of net neutrality regulations is in anyone’s best interest - ours, yours, the consumers, or ultimately the ISPs.
We believe in the benefits of a free market, and are firmly against any fees for access to that market. Free markets are essential to a healthy and thriving internet, economy, and society.
If you believe in the benefits of net neutrality, please let the FCC and FCC chairman Ajit Pai know how you feel.
You can go to the website gofccyourself.com, click on the “+Express” link and fill out the form.
In the comments section, please politely express your opinion of the proposed changes to net neutrality regulations.