According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term “Net Neutrality” refers to a set of principles that instigate Internet service providing companies (ISPs) to give users the access to all content and applications, irrespective of sources. It further asserts that ISPs should not express any favoritism or prohibition on any kind of products or website.
The idea of Net Neutrality, though a few years’ old, rose to popularity in 2014 like never before. While one discipline supports the idea that Internet should be no different than any other utility like water or electricity, on the other hand, another discipline claims that Internet usage should be characterized with multiple usage tiers. This means that based on the difference in payment options, users would be, and should be be able to receive different types of Internet usage based on how much they are willing to pay.
Why Should It Matter?
The debate over Net Neutrality has introduced a new dynamic. The fundamental premise of the Internet has always been access for all. As long as you can get online, you have the same access to and ability to use the Web as anyone else – be they individual or business. Of course, the speed of your Internet connection and/or access to an Internet connection comes into play, but essentially, the way of the world has been that all users are created equal. Until, now, of course.
The proposed changes to Net Neutrality as it exists today is that there would be, in essence, Internet “superhighways” created that would be available based on how much someone was willing to pay. This is extremely simplified for purposes of this discussion, but essentially what it would mean would be that there would be a difference between how an ordinary, average Internet user can access the Internet and have access to information compared to a large company paying for the “fast lane.”
Obviously, large companies and entities would benefit greatly from a change in Net Neutrality as we know it today, and the rest of us, ordinary average people, small to mid-size businesses, schools, and even many very large companies who have built businesses on the ability to deliver large amounts of information over the Internet would be hampered as a result of changes to the premise of Net Neutrality as we know it today.
One of the most widely cited instances in this context is the Netflix case. Everybody knows Netflix. And of course, the company attracts a majority of U.S. Internet traffic every year, which quite evidently generates the argument that ISPs are eligible to charge Netflix and other Internet companies in exchange for the benefit (and the profits) the company enjoys.
The debate is becoming a matter of increasing importance mainly due to two reasons,
- The standpoint of an individual in this struggle for Net Neutrality
- The standpoint of an individual within the Net Neutrality cosmos, while compared with an Internet giant.
The Internet has changed everything about how we live and work today, and issues like this are understandably coming to the fore. Having conversations about things like Net Neutrality and coming up with solutions that are good for all is an important part of the evolution of the Internet in general. Let’s look at what kind of impact Net Neutrality has on business.
Net Neutrality and its Impact on Business
The tumult surrounding Net Neutrality and the gradual weakening of the argument favoring the motion may affect businesses in these three ways-
- Costly business: Without Net Neutrality, running business is bound to become more costly than before. Business minus Net Neutrality means ISPs will implement payment options as per their discretion (kind of like what we say cable companies do in the past). Smaller and newer competitors that cannot afford higher charge will suffer as. in most cases. they will fail to be able to afford the kind of expensive Internet services that their larger competitors can afford.
- Kill evenness: Net Neutrality allows smaller companies to take their bigger counterparts head-on, as both of them have the same access facilities. Without Net Neutrality, smaller businesses will miss out opportunities and the playing field will no longer be a level one.
- Goodbye video marketing: Video marketing is one of the strongest weapons in the hands of small businesses in promoting their products and services. Without Net Neutrality, video marketing is sure to become more expensive and smaller companies will experience budget constraints in sharing content to optimal capacity.
Net Neutrality means that the playing field is level and all players are given the same access and opportunities to succeed. Laws that limit Net Neutrality most definitely impact society as a whole, and individuals and businesses in general.
What do you think about the Net Neutrality discussion? How do you see changes to the Net Neutrality that we know today impacting your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts.