On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end Net Neutrality regulations that were originally put into place when Barack Obama was in office. Net neutrality regulations essentially provided balance on the Internet and gave everyone the opportunity to have access to the same information. Now, however, with the end of net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) will have more freedom to discriminate among different types of traffic on the Internet, and the ability to affect the speed of Internet traffic, too. This is a big concern among Internet users, especially those business owners whose livelihood depends on Internet usage.
The end of net neutrality rules mainly benefits large businesses who have the financial resources to pay extra funds in order to have an edge on other businesses and their online presence. Small business owners are more likely to be affected by the end of net neutrality, as their resources are more limited. Statistics show that more than 99% of American businesses have 500 or less employees, so this is a large number of American workers that could potentially be affected.
The general thought is that change, however, will be slow in coming. Most Internet providers have eluded to the idea that the changes will be subtle and extended over a long period of time, perhaps due to the fact that they don’t desire to have mobs of angry customers, nor do they wish to raise the attention of lawmakers that could challenge their net neutrality freedom.
You may wonder if there is anything that you can do to help protect your small business? The answer is yes. Many people are anticipating that the FCC will face many legal battles in the upcoming months. You have the ability to speak out about your views regarding net neutrality. Contacting your local representatives or your state senator may also provide some leverage, and aid in making your arguments known.
In the meantime, as 2018 gets underway, there will be a “wait and see” type of activity occurring, as the net neutrality regulations are disbanded. Keep your hopes high, and keep a close eye on developing net neutrality matters.