What is Net Neutrality, and What Does it Mean to Your Business?

iStock_000016066249Medium Some of you may have overheard or read that the Supreme Court invalidated several parts of an FCC’s Open Internet Order, or “Net Neutrality”. This order would have made it illegal for internet service providers to give preferential treatment to content providers that pay a fee for exposure. This means that large companies like Target and Best Buy can pay a fee to have their websites load faster than the small appliance dealer and children’s clothing store websites.

How does this impact you? Think about this: How long do you wait for slow-loading websites? The reality is not very long. If you want to find out about a local pest control company, and their website is loading slowly, but the site for the national franchise is loading quickly, you’ll read the fast loading page, and probably close the window on the local guy. The local guy can’t pay the fees for preferential treatment, but the national franchise can. Their pockets are deeper. Your business suffers.

The reason this order was struck down is that the FCC classified ISPs as an information service, not a telecom service. Telecoms are regarded as utilities, and are federally regulated to keep them from overpricing their services to the customers. Information providers can charge whatever they want, and now they can censor your content to the advertisers that don’t pay them extra.

Think of your print magazine or online magazine. You wouldn’t expect to find articles about cruise travel in an auto enthusiast magazine. You wouldn’t look in a decorators magazine to find out about the local trials and criminal activity. Those sources control their content. Now your ISP can censor and control your contend, and sell it to the highest bidder.

Below is an infographic from MediaMatters.org that gives a good overview of the issue.

NetNeutrality

The easiest solution is for the FCC to reclassify ISPs as telecom services. Then the rules governing fair business practices cover them as well as your phone, electric, gas and water companies. For the time being, this means that you may not have the internet you thought you did, and that customers may have a harder time reaching you.

The only thing you can do is to contact your federal representative to voice your opinions on how this could affect your business.

About Reba Winstead

Reba Winstead is the blogger and social media manager at CountyWebsite.com, and the editor of several community news websites through CountyWebsite.com.

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