How Losing Net Neutrality Could Affect Digital Marketing
Author: Francesca Genello
Unless you’ve removed yourself from the grid, you’ve probably noticed that there’s been a lot of buzz about Net Neutrality recently. This is because on December 14th there’s a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing about the proposed repeal of Net Neutrality. Sound familiar, but not really sure what that means and how it might affect you as a user or business owner? Let us help.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the principle that any Internet Service Provider, or ISP, must treat all data on the internet equally and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application etc. So essentially, as a user you can get access to the whole web equally, meaning that none of these large ISP’s, such as Verizon, Comcast, Cox or AT&T, could intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and content.
Let’s imagine ourselves in a non-neutrality scenario: It’s late on a Monday evening, you just got home from work and all you want is to have a low key night browsing social media and your favorite blogs online. With your ISP’s new plan you’re able to browse large websites such as Facebook with ease for a low price. But once you go to select that clickbait article your friend posted, you’re greeted with an error message stating that this is not covered in your plan and prompts you to add this website for extra money each month. Sounds frustrating, huh? Now this is a very specific scenario, one of many possibilities – but the idea is essentially always the same – ISP’s won’t be ruled by governmental regulations and can work however they like.
So why should web marketers care?
Net Neutrality stimulates competition among all businesses using the internet, creating a high demand for online services such as digital marketing, content creation, and SEO. Keeping Net Neutrality allows an equal playing field for all businesses which in turn creates more opportunity for new players.
As Rand Fishkin explains, just by registering a website, you’re automatically put on the same, even playing field with giant websites such as Google and Amazon, because it’s the same internet access. So your personal blog is on the same playing field as Google, at least at the fundamental ISP level. Under non-neutrality, if you’re an owner of a small business, you’ll probably always be a low-tier site because it’s hard to compete financially with those giant sites that can pay ISPs to keep them in a higher tier – resulting in less businesses trying to compete. To put it simply, more businesses = more demand for digital marketing services.
If this passes, what might happen?
If the proposal from FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is approved this December 14th, the way the internet has always operated will fundamentally change. There are many potential scenarios of what might actually happen but we’ll focus on these important ones.
“Fast Lanes”: Certain tiers, parts of the web, companies, sites, and services would be able to offer their users faster access while others would be slower or even disallowed by certain ISPs.
Free vs Paid: Some services would require a fee or an additional charge while others could remain free.
A (financial) Need for Speed: In order to get the speedy access you have to the web now, you’ll have to pay your ISP for that. And if you’re a business, you’re going to have to pay off the ISPs to give your users that full access they desire.
The situation and how you can help
The risk is higher than ever for losing Net Neutrality. Although this is not a politicized issue for many American voters, Congress and the FCC are the big fighters against Net Neutrality. The big ISPs have the financial power to pay a lot of lobbying dollars to try and influence politics and unfortunately it’s kind of working.
So how can you help? If this is something you feel passionate about and you want to take action, check out the site savetheinternet.com or text RESIST to 504-09. Sign the petition, call your senators, and spread this information to all your friends. This fight is important and will help preserve careers in web marketing as well as keeping an open, free, and competitive internet #netneutralitysquad
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