Today the Federal Communications Commission voted in favour of net neutrality rules which could have a major impact on how the internet works and how internet service providers handle internet traffic. This New York Times article explains what net neutrality is, how it works and what the proposed regulations mean. Currently all data transmitted across the internet is transmitted at the same speed regardless of which company or individual it is coming from. The idea being proposed is that companies can pay for faster internet speeds to transmit their data while those who do not enter into financial deals will be restricted to the regular speeds.
Opponents of these proposed rules believe that the internet should be open to everyone in the same way and that companies should not be able to buy preferential speeds. This would in effect give rich companies a significant advantage over start-ups and small businesses who cannot afford the to pay for the fast lane of internet connection to consumers.
Proponents of the proposed rules think that it is a commercially viable solution to the problem of bottlenecks large companies face in periods of high traffic. If these large companies can purchase faster internet connections their services can be improved and the final consumer’s experience can also be enhanced. The proposed rules also have clauses forbidding discrimination and promoting access to legal content. Infringements of these rules would have to be dealt with on a case by case basis.
As the owner of a company that relies heavily on the internet I believe in the importance of net neutrality where all data is treated equally. Imagine if large firms can offer internet based services via faster connections than smaller companies, how would these smaller companies be able to compete in an innovative way while restricted to “regular” speed connections? At SeizerStyle Designs we offer many websites that utilize databases and develop a lot of multimedia content. If a competitor can provide these services faster it gives them a competitive advantage which is not based on the quality of the content but on the quality of the experience which was enhanced by preferential connections.
It is too soon to come to any conclusion on how the final net neutrality rules will be implemented and how it will ultimately affect the open internet. It is, however, time to raise concerns about how regulation could affect the fairness and openness of internet access for consumers and businesses alike.