One, two, Trump is coming for you...
The repealing of the Federal Communications Commission’s “Broadband Privacy Rules” was just the beginning. Up next: President Trump sets his sights on dismantling Net Neutrality Laws.
Net Neutrality Laws were enacted under the Obama Administration. They were created to even the playing field between large companies that deliver internet services and content providers.
By classifying large companies that deliver internet services to consumers as public utilities; these companies are unable to discriminate against content providers (e.g. Facebook). Discrimination often takes the form of providing “fast lane bandwidth” to some, and “slow lane bandwidth” to others.
Dismantling the Net Neutrality Laws will have negative repercussions for businesses. Buckle up and get ready because we’re in for a bumpy ride. Here’s what you need to know.
ISPs Will Be Able to Play Favorites
Right now Net Neutrality Laws prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from playing favorites, which is a good thing. But once the laws are disbanded, there’s no stopping ISPs from charging certain websites for faster speeds, or giving their own services technical advantages.
Let’s say you’re a Mom & Pop Hardware Store with an online store. An ISP provider decides to give you super slow bandwidth because maybe they hate family-owned businesses. Without Net Neutrality Laws, you don’t have much muscle to fight back against ISPs, unlike say Lowes or Home Depot. And even then, the big box stores don’t have much say either, unless they’re on an ISP’s good side.
Competition Will Be Reduced and Costs Will Rise
Not surprisingly, killing net neutrality will reduce competition and costs will rise. Consumers will be forced to pay whatever the ISPs want to charge.
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For instance, say you have two choices: Comcast and Verizon. Both are charging 50% more than what you were paying before. But they’re your only ISP choices. What do you do? Go without internet for your online store, blog, and social platforms? Or do you suck it up and pay the price?
Sadly, you have no choice but to do the latter.
It’s no secret ISPs are the real winner here. The ones who are losing are businesses; and small businesses in particular will feel the repercussions the most.
Small Businesses Will Get Slammed
Currently, Net Neutrality Laws give all businesses the same internet reach and access, no matter their size or revenue. But once those laws are gone, despite what ISPs will say, the reality is clear. ISPs will tilt the scales in big business’ favor.
Why? Big business has the cash flow to pay more. Ca-ching!
Here’s a troubling scenario: let’s say AT&T charges their users a hefty fee for data prioritization. However, your small business can’t afford that, so you’re stuck with slow internet speed. Your customers get frustrated that it takes them 10 minutes to shop and check out on your site. So, they go to Target, who can afford the fee and doesn’t have slow internet.
See why this is an issue? Small businesses can’t compete against ISPs or those who can afford to pay more.
But It Won’t Be Easy to Dismantle
So, the outlook is pretty grim. But if there’s a silver lining to any of this, according to policy experts it won’t be easy to get rid of Net Neutrality Rules.
Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can only overturn using a streamlined process within a two-year timeframe. However, it’s been two years since the Net Neutrality Rules were passed. So, the streamline process is out, and Congress will have to do it the normal way, which takes longer.
How long? Who knows. But fingers-crossed, it drags out until a new administration is in office.