By Lisa Rioni and Molly Nichols
Net neutrality is an extremely important topic that impacts each and every one of us. The problem is that many people are not paying attention to it. As retailers, you need to know what net neutrality is and how it can impact your business.
Net neutrality means that every website has equal access to the Internet. No matter how big or small you are, you can publish a website, and know that anyone can get to your personal blog or your small business ecommerce site just as easily as they get to any other website, such as Google or Amazon. Net neutrality benefits everyone because it ensures an environment of healthy competition, where users collectively determine true supply and demand.
The major opponents of net neutrality are large telecoms, who would profit by controlling what users can access. They would do this by speeding up connections to websites of companies that pay a premium (known as “fast-lane tolls”), and making it difficult or impossible to access sites that can’t afford to pay the “fast-lane” fees.
In 2015, after years of lawsuits brought against telecoms for trying to manipulate internet traffic for profit, the FCC took the bold step of classifying the Internet as a public utility. This effectively prevented the telecoms from manipulating and further profiting from web content. However, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, was appointed FCC Chairman in 2017. His goal is to undo that classification.
On December 14, 2017, the FCC will vote to end net neutrality by shifting control of the Internet over to the FTC. The FTC, however, “will only be able to make sure that cable companies are adhering to their own terms and conditions, which are written to protect the cable monopolists, not the consumer” (BGR Media).
What does the future look like without net neutrality? Slow and expensive.
Small retailers will have an even harder time competing with big names in the industry. If retailers cannot afford the fees to be in the fast lane, their sites will be stuck loading for the few customers that can even reach them. Net neutrality is something that will affect every single person and impact those with online businesses even more.
What can you do?
There is still time to take action and show support for net neutrality before the final vote on December 14, 2017. Visit www.battleforthenet.com to learn more and take action to save net neutrality. Join the online movement to #SaveNetNeutrality and #StopTheFCC.