A free and open internet was cemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under President Obama’s administration. On Tuesday, the FCC, under the leadership of the current administration, announced it wants to reverse net neutrality. Reversing net neutrality is not a Republican versus Democrat or liberal versus conservative decision. It’s about money. Before we delve into the politics of net neutrality, I think it’s important to review what it is.
Everyone – individual, small or large business, and political persuasion – has the same access to whatever we want to access on the internet regardless of size, interest, etc. No one must pay the broadband carriers extra to have that access. Under President Obama’s administration, he guaranteed net neutrality even after broadband carriers proposed there be fast lanes and slow lanes. The fast lanes would carry a cost and could get preferential treatment in delivery of content and searches to those on the slow lanes.
FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has called for the end of net neutrality which would clear the way for telecom providers to implement fast and slow lanes for companies, charge different rates for the delivery of any content, and stop those who are unwilling to pay. I believe the approach proposed by the broadband carriers will have a negative impact on small businesses making it cost prohibitive to be on the fast internet lanes.
Large companies will be able to afford the cost of faster internet lanes while many small businesses will not. As a small business owner, I understand the value of being discovered through a local Google, Yahoo, or Bing search. My blogging has helped me be discovered by people wanting comparison quotes for home, auto, life and business insurance. More importantly, it’s allowed me to provide educational content which helps consumers make informed decisions about their insurance needs.
A free and open internet is imperative for continued economic growth, especially in the small business arena. Small businesses continue to lead the economic recovery in hiring and new job creation. They account for half of all private sector jobs, 60% to 80% of net new jobs annually, and employ about 130 million US workers. Having a tiered internet delivery model penalizes small business. Large internet tech companies including Google and Amazon believe it would end free speech.
How we ensure net neutrality is the big question. Should it be regulated like electric and telephone utilities are under an expanded version of their law which was created decades ago, or should there be little or no regulation giving carte blanche control to the telecom companies? I believe it’s too important an issue to blindly follow either political party, rather, it should be a bi-partisan effort where the needs of small businesses and individuals are considered equal to those of large corporations with well-funded lobbyists.
The only way the needs of small business owners will be met is for us to share them with our elected officials in Washington, as well as, the appointed officials in the FCC. If we don’t speak up and share our concerns, then what regulation or legislation does take place may not be in our best interest! Here are links to both branches and the FCC.
- US Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
- US Congress: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
- FCC http://www.fcc.gov/contact-us
Or you may want to sign one of the petitions circulating the web. Here are links to two such petitions.
- We the People: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/do-not-repeal-net-neutrality
- Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/save-net-neutrality-netneutrality
Do you agree, disagree, or aren’t sure? Whichever it is, share your thoughts and questions with me on our Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!