During the Obama’s administration, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) cemented an open and free internet. However, Ajit Pai, the current U.S.A.’s FCC chairman, recently announced that it was going to do a net neutrality reversal. Consequently, the Senate is headed for a congressional review act (CRA) to block FCC repeal of net neutrality. Net neutrality reversal move is all about the money it will bring. So what is net neutrality and what does it mean for small businesses?
Currently, everyone gets similar access to anything they want to check on the web no matter what and how it is. Net neutrality means that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) allow equal web access to everyone no matter where the content comes from. You are not required to pay extra money to the broadband carriers to get that access.
Broadband carriers wanted to introduce slow and fast lanes, and that’s where the politics come in. These fast lanes would have extra costs and get favored treatment when delivering searches and content to those using slow lanes.
What This Means for Small Businesses:
The freedom of access to the internet that consumers and small businesses could all be taken away from them if the new laws go through. If the regulations that prevent ISPs from charging clients to access and organizations to reach their customers are removed, then small businesses would greatly suffer. Data prioritization would be expensive; so much that small business owners would not afford it.
Loss of Clients:
If a business cannot afford the premium services that allow it to reach its customers, it will no longer be able to get in touch with them. If such a company chooses to go back to the traditional ways of reaching clients, it may not succeed. The economic effect on reversing net neutrality is that significant problems will arise stifling the same businesses that have been ensuring that the economy grows.
The present trend for startups is prioritizing ethical material sourcing, low pricing, and clear labor practices in ways that traditional businesses have not. Nevertheless, if their pages load slowly and the images fail to show up clearly, clients will not have a good experience. This could drive them back to the products that they have tried and tested.
As a small start-up, it would not be good for potential clients to have a bad experience on your website. The clients get a bad impression of your brand, and it discourages them from accessing your site further. This could greatly hurt customer retention and sales.
Impact on New Content:
If you have to pay to play content, then the innovative new material would not get a fair opportunity to succeed. Without net neutrality, the new and innovative ideas you have will be accessible to users at a prolonged rate compared to the content that big media firms provide. Hence it will be hard to push your startup ideas.
What To Do About This:
Start-ups and small businesses should talk as much as they can about this issue. Together with other small business people, you can join hands and make your grievances known to your lawmakers.
If it is possible to convey your issues to the congressional representatives. Talk to anyone who will be affected by net neutrality reversal because there is strength in numbers. You will increase your chances of being heard.
If you make it your mission to reach out to a few people every day, and they, in turn, do the same, thousands of start-ups will understand the impact of net neutrality to their operation and growth. Below are other ways through which you can be of help:
• First, join other small business and start-up owners to sign a letter.
• Share this information on social media to create awareness. You can also email or write text to your friends.
• Using this tool, you can get in touch with small businesses within your locality and let them know how important it is to sign the letter mentioned above.
The aim is to get thousands of start-ups and small businesses to sign the above letter. Once this is done, all these businesses will meet face-to-face with lawmakers in their locality so that they can attract media houses. Congress members will have to listen when many small businesses speak about the issues affecting them. It is important to keep the internet neutralized so that you are not charged extra to do business online.
Mark Angelo co-founded the Investment Manager in August 2009 and two affiliated investment managers (the “Affiliated Investment Managers”) in 2000 and 2016.