Net Neutrality rules define high-speed Internet as a utility. Current rules in place by the Federal Communcations Commission (FCC) require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) give all consumers equal access to online content. On Tuesday, November 21, 2017 The FCC, released their plan to tear down the existing regulations, which would allow ISPs to charge users more and block access to some content. No matter your policical leanings, I think we can all agree that equal access for all is imperative for businesses to survive and thrive.
Why this matters for small businesses
Net Neutrality and the ability to access and share information without impediment is critical to the progression of small businesses. Without it, ISPs can give priority access to the "big" websites, leaving yours harder to access by your consumers — longer load times, or blocked completely if you in any way interfere with an ISP's business model. If you don't have a few extra million dollars lying around to pay a company like Comcast to put you in the fast lane, it'll be harder for your regular customers to find your website or shop in your online store.
We all should be freaking out right now
We have seen what not having Net Neutrality has done for the Internet in other countries. An ISP in Portugal, charges more for access to specific websites on mobile devices — €4.99 per month for unlimited access to Skype, FaceTime, and Whatsapp; another €4.99 if you want to access social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages. pic.twitter.com/TlLYGezmv6— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 27, 2017
The same thing can (and will) happen in America if Net Neutrality rules are dismantled, just look at the hypothetical (but very probable) situation below:
What you can do
The only way to stop this train is to contact your representatives in congress. Let them know that you and your business rely on Net Neutrality to be able to compete in today's online world. Tell them that the Internet should remain in the hands of the people that use it every day.
Services like http://resistbot.io and https://www.battleforthenet.com make it easy to find out who your representatives are and contact them to share your concerns. It takes less than five minutes. The only way for congress to stop the dismantling of Net Neutrality is to know their constituents depend on it.
Here's a starting template — feel free to modify to fit your needs.
My name is [your name], and I am a small business owner in Northern Colorado. Net Neutrality is imperative for the growth and success of my business. Without it, it will be more difficult for customers to find my website and support my business. It will be impossible to compete with larger companies that can afford to pay Internet Service Providers for priority access.
Control over the Internet should remain in the hands of the people who use it every day. Data passed over any network should be treated equally by all providers. The ability to share information without impediment is critical to the progression of my business, and all small businesses around the country.
Please stand with the public by protecting Net Neutrality once and for all.
Photo Credit: FREE PRESS/CC