The FCC has caused a major stir in the internet community by announcing rollbacks to net neutrality rules. Net neutrality in simple terms means that internet service providers should not create “fast lanes” for websites that pay for such. The main idea behind the concept of net neutrality is that ISPs should ensure equal access to all websites that are online.
What Does it Mean if Current Net Neutrality Rules are Rolled Back?
Rolling back net neutrality rules as the current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has suggested would allow certain cable companies to limit speeds for particular websites or online content. For example, Comcast or Verizon could demand that only websites that pay a certain fee can load in under 3 seconds on user’s browsers. This type of data capping was prohibited under the Common Carrier law established under the Obama administration. Pai has advocated for allowing ISPs to control site load speed as they like. So how does net neutrality rules affect small businesses? Read below to find out.
Small Businesses May have to Suffer Slow Loading Sites
If such fast or slow lanes were created for sites and content, then small businesses would be immensely impacted. For example, an ISP could demand websites to pay $10,000 (theoretically) to make sure the mobile version of the site loads in under 2 seconds. Businesses know the importance of site speed for customer retention. Mobile site speeds are especially important because it affects SEO as well. If the small business is unable to pay this fee, then the company will end up with slow loading pages. That’s as good as killing digital business, explains experts with the consultancy firm Corporate Business Solutions.
Small Businesses May Lose Level Playing Ground if Net Neutrality Rules are Eliminated
Now let’s consider who can pay that $10,000 fee for fast loading websites. That would be the biggest brand names with major capital. For example, Amazon can pay that fee and make sure the famous e-store is easily accessible to all customers, while a small, local specialty e-store may struggle to pay the insane fees. This essentially means that small businesses would lose out to big players.
The advent of e-commerce essentially leveled the playing ground between big retail brands and smaller companies. E-commerce platforms don’t charge shelf fees. Therefore, many small businesses were able to find niche audiences online without stifling fees. Rolling back net neutrality rules would mean that small businesses lose this advantage. It would fundamentally change how the internet works in a manner that negatively affects small businesses.
In essence, eliminating net neutrality rules would be catastrophic to most small businesses. It would particularly affect brands that sell products through gadgets and smartphones. It would affect both sales and marketing efforts as well. If net neutrality rules are rolled back, businesses should get ready to do commerce in an uneven field where companies with money have better access to customers. Small business owners can still get politically active and stop the rollback. In case it goes through, companies should prepare for the worst with the help of professionals like CBS consultants.