Why reliable Internet Service Providers matter

The internet is an important tool that is easy to take for granted when you are constantly connected. You may have internet access at work and at home as well. You can probably also subscribe to a mobile data plan on your phone. The more access we have to the internet the more we tend to depend on it for work, entertainment or education. This makes it all the more difficult when connectivity issues creep up.

No WirelessMy problem

Over the past few weeks I have been having issues with my internet connection either working intermittently or not at all. As someone who develops and maintains websites and social media pages this affects me not only on a personal level but more importantly on a business level. While I can do a certain level of work offline, the workflow is different and it limits the accessibility that clients have to me via email, Skype, or social media. It also limits my access to information on many useful sites on the internet. Obviously without an internet connection I also can’t publish any content for myself or my clients.

Our problem

Shopping CartI am not the only one affected by poor connectivity to the internet due to the unreliability of an ISP. This also affects anyone trying to set up or run an internet related business. If you or your customers are likely to experience internet connectivity issues which are not quickly resolved it devalues the whole online experience. Imagine you are in the middle of making a purchase and your connection drops. Did the transaction go through? Will reloading the page make you do a double purchase? Will a potential customer remember to check your website when the internet starts working properly again?

The reality of the situation

Speed and cost are often touted as selling points by Internet Service Providers but reliability is also very important. What’s the point of having the fastest download speeds if you can only use it half the time? Occasionally problems will occur and ISPs are expected to upgrade their networks which may cause some connectivity issues. They are however, also expected to be committed to their customers and not charge for services that are not provided. Good communication can diffuse many tense situations while lack of communication can make it much worst. The more reliable and ubiquitous access to the internet becomes the more opportunities that open up for entrepreneurs. Internet Service Providers have a pivotal role to play in this equation – one they should not take lightly.

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Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Debate

Open InternetToday 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.


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