So virtually everyone knows now that the FCC has voted to rollback internet regulations put in place by the FCC during the Obama administration. This change is generally regarded as bad for consumers.
Why? Well, let’s take a look at the three main aspects of ‘net neutrality’ that just got repealed:
1. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may not block access to lawful content, apps, or service.
Even if a consumer was trying to download a video streaming app that was in direct competition with the company supplying internet access, the connection and downloading of the app had to be treated the same as any other internet request.
2. ISPs may not impair, degrade, or throttle any lawful site, service or app which a consumer is trying to access.
Even if a consumer was using an app that was in direct competition to the ISP, the ISP was forbidden to affect the content received by the app in any way—in short, they could not slow it down.
3. ISPs may not favor any type of internet traffic over another in exchange for financial consideration
This is the so-called ‘fast lane’ and ‘slow lane’ regulation, which prevented by law things like charging Netflix fees so that people trying to stream one of their movies don’t find their connections slowed down—perhaps to the point of uselessness.
But what does the repeal of ‘net neutrality’ mean to your business? Turns out there’s a lot of worry about that, too—even if you don’t consider your business to be in the online content business. But how founded is that worry?
There is certainly no need to panic now: any impact will likely come in stages.
In a word: nothing. That’s because the vote by the FCC won’t become a law right away.
The new rules first must appear in the Federal Register—which will take weeks to months. The vote in 2015 that codified Net Neutrality happened on February 26. Those rules were published in the Federal Register in mid-April, with the rules finally becoming law in June of 2015.
If the 2017 ruling were to follow a similar timeline, then the net neutrality repeal would go into effect somewhere around February of 2018.
But… this time there will be lawsuits.
Potential Lawsuits and Action Against Net Neutrality Repeal
- Public-interest organization Free Press already announced its intention to sue, and is likely to be only one of several public interest, civil and digital rights groups to do so.
- Lawsuits are likely to be filed by trade organizations like the Internet Association—who represents Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Reddit, and others.
- Some states will see their Attorneys General file suit against the rules; New York’s Eric Schneiderman’s has already vowed to form a multistate lawsuit against the FCC.
Working through the cycle of lawsuits will take at least a year, and with the involved process and issues it will likely be closer to 24 months. Or longer.
But What if the New Rules Survive the Challenges?
Giant internet providers like AT&T, Comcast, & Verizon will be able to give priority to the movies, TV shows and other content they provide, and adversely treat content from competitors like Sling, Amazon, YouTube, and others. FaceTime could wind up taking a long time to connect, with poor results. The list for consumers could go on and on.
But will they? It’s almost certain that some alliances between ISPs and content providers might offer consumers something that others could not match. But consumers have always had choices. And competition between the ISPs is certain to be fierce.
And when it comes to business? Theoretically, some unexpected results could occur.
Like this business that was profiled in the New York Times: GoodLight Natural Candles. What GoodLight is worried about may well be worrying other small business owners.
Every day, orders from consumers placed online are relayed to fulfillment warehouses all over the country. This is true for many businesses who use the internet to reach customers and to send the orders to these fulfillment warehouses– who then package and ship the goods ordered to consumers.
It’s a part of business in America now that is almost taken for granted. It’s also one in which the role of the internet can’t be understated.
GoodLight sees 15% of their sales come from their own website, and another 10% comes from FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). Without Net Neutrality regulations, GoodLight worries that they–and other small businesses who have an online footprint– may not enjoy a level playing field.
Fulfillment might become tilted towards the big dogs.
But consider this: in the United States, more than 99% of all businesses in operation have fewer than 500 employees, according to the Small Business Administration. More than 25% of those small firms said they planned to expand their eCommerce platforms. That would be an awful lot of businesses to try and throttle or force to the slow lane.
Another option for business might be the use of technology like VPN service, which hides IP addresses from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), making it difficult for them to throttle or block service.
And the big ISPs? Naturally, they want to be reassuring: In a blog post just prior to the vote, Comcast’s chief executive, David N. Watson, wrote that his company
“does not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate
against lawful content.”
The FCC’s voting majority say their vote is a ‘light touch’ approach that will encourage innovation. And that too, may actually be what happens.
Right now, it’s a wait and see situation.
But while you’re waiting, 5i Solutions can help with business today.
5i Solutions recognizes the importance of technology to business. That’s why 5i offers highly technological solutions to those in charge of today’s business and other important enterprise.
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5i has seen business and political cycles come and go, and believes that more than any reasonable regulations that may be put in place, innovation in the workplace and speed to market will continue to be the primary determiners of success. And 5i will continue to focus on helping business do just that.
Call 5i Solutions to get a data security and document management solution that will work with your current workflows and systems. Keep your vital data secure and available 24/7 from anywhere in the world—only, of course, to those authorized to have access to it.
Best of all, 5i Solutions can build this custom solution for you for less than you might think. The best technology is accessible, and easy to use. So call today.
5i Solutions. One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage. One singular solution.
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