Net neutrality has been all over the headlines recently. Blog are abuzz and newspaper column inches are piling up about what could be the biggest revolutionary web development for years. But just how exactly does the FCC Verizon ruling affect start-up businesses? We look at the impact and it’s possible consequences for your small business:
Visionaries May Be Shut Out
By removing the concept of net neutrality, the online world could effectively be turned into a two-tier system. This could mean small businesses and visionary innovators finding their operations impossible. With the net becoming ‘pay to play’, blue-chip companies could pay heavy fees to Internet Service Providers to make sure that their sites run faster and better than the rest of the web, giving them a huge advantage.
‘Sponsored’ Apps Make Competition Impossible
With big corporations already operating on the edges of this, carrier AT&T announced back in January their plans to offer ‘Sponsored Data’. This would allow those companies with the budget to do so the chance to give their customers free data time when using their apps and services. Things like this could be the downfall of small businesses, who simply won’t have the budget to compete.
Eloquence Will Belong to the Victors
With other channels being slowed and smaller voices effectively being silenced, the echo chamber effect we’re already seeing being played out with fake news and interest driven display algorithms will get smaller and smaller. The unique beauty of the net – as a collaborative resource where we all have a voice, and where a smartphone video shot in your kitchen has just as much chance of going viral as anything a glossy corporate can airbrush into existence- will be lost. The different perspectives that make the web the incredible resource it is will disappear, with only corporate voices left.
It Could Eradicate Digital Nomads
Much is said in celebration of the digital nomad, that elite group of remote workers in the world who can turn in project work while sat on a bench in Bali. But although your small business may not be so exotic, you are likely to rely on remote working. High speed home broadband and secure VPN networks are the tools that keep this working. But if we wave goodbye to net neutrality, working from any location could get a lot harder. If ISPs are allowed to constrain traffic how they please without consequence, this could mean having to pay for business class access at each separate location or pay every ISP involved in order to secure priority access. If not, it could be so slow as to be effectively unworkable, ending the possibility of working remotely.
So whether the recent case washed over you or not, in order to build a successful small business you need net neutrality in place. The eyes of the world are on the best decision. Will there a place for disruptive innovators and free-thinking but cash flow poor entrepreneurs in this new model? Or will originality and creativity be crushed under the might of huge companies and their deeper pockets?