On November 14 of last year, I wrote a blog post on why small businesses should care about net neutrality (see http://188.8.131.52/~wiseinsu/why-small-businesses-should-care-about-net-neutrality/). I wanted to revisit it because of a Wall Street Journal article posted on Monday, January 5th which stated Republicans in Congress are working on plans to fight the FCC’s rules on net neutrality. The FCC had to revisit the work they were doing on net neutrality after President Obama made a speech calling for a free and open internet available to all.
Before we delve into the politics of net neutrality, I think it’s important to review what it is. An easy way to think of it is, we all have the same access to people on the internet regardless of our size. Neither do we have to pay the broadband carriers extra to have that access. Prior to President Obama’s November speech, broadband carriers were proposing 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.
I believe the approach proposed by the broadband carriers will have a negative impact on small businesses because the 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 looking for insurance. More importantly, it’s allowed me to provide educational content which helps consumers better understand home, car, life, and business insurance.
A free and open internet is imperative for continued economic growth, especially in the small business arena. Small businesses have led the recovery in hiring and new job creation. They account for half of all private sector jobs, account for 60% to 80% of net new jobs annually, and employ about 130 million US workers. Having a tiered internet delivery model penalizes small business.
How we ensure net neutrality is the big question. Should it be regulated, as President Obama proposes, like the electric and telephone utilities under an expanded version of their law which was created decades ago? Or should there be less regulations as many Republicans believe? 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
Do you agree, disagree, or aren’t sure? Whichever it is, share your thoughts and questions with me on our Google + and Facebook pages, or on my LinkedIn profile. I’d love to hear from you!