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Net Neutrality and Small Business

The term net neutrality has been used a lot lately.

Many business owners believe it’s a “techie” issue, but it’s not.

Simplified, net neutrality ensures open, equal access to the Internet and supports healthy competition for small and large business in the United States.

With net neutrality, Internet Service Providers that regulate Internet access must treat all data the same, regardless of whom it belongs to or who is accessing it.

They’re prohibited from making deals to send one company’s data faster than another’s.

On that same note, they cannot choke a competitor’s data, either.

The opposite of net neutrality is Internet censorship and would allow large corporations to control what you could or could not access on the Internet, and who could access your data (or not).

Think of it this way: imagine if Sherman Oaks Accounting & Bookkeeping offered preferential customers more accurate accounting services if they paid us a huge fee. Customers who did not pay the huge fee would receive inaccurate accounting services instead.

As customers who could afford our huge fee received accurate services, fewer and fewer small customers would be able to afford it and would be throttled into accepting inaccurate services. They would literally have no choice.

The above example may seem ridiculous, but it effectively illustrates how the net neutrality repeal could affect your business.

It essentially allows already powerful companies to cut deals with Internet Service Providers for better Internet access and data speeds that small businesses simply cannot compete with.

The power will be in the already huge Internet Service Providers’ hands (i.e., Charter, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc.) to pick and choose which businesses will succeed, whose data will flow more freely, and which businesses will fail as online access is limited.

Without net neutrality, large corporations will put their own interests first and choke competitors’ apps and websites. They’ll have virtual monopolies on the Internet in the United States.

An ISP will be allowed to speed up or slow down your Internet depending on which website you are browsing or streaming content on and whether they paid for a faster connectivity privilege or not.

Without net neutrality, most of the U.S. will pay higher prices for slower web access than people in other developed countries do.

Your favorite programs and websites could be restricted, or you might have to pay more to access them, and you might not be able to sell your goods or services online.

So what can you do?

Many states have already passed net neutrality protection bills that defend businesses and consumers.

Write to your state representative and governor in support of such a bill if it’s currently being considered in your state or if you would like one to be.

In this day and age, every small business should be on the Internet.

Direct-to-consumer goods are trending with startup companies.

Many of these new companies prioritize social responsibility with ethically sourced materials and lower prices.

But these businesses will suffer if customers return to behemoth retailers online when they have bad experiences with smaller retailers’ pages loading slowly or having unclear images, directly hurting a small business’s sales and customer retention.

Small business owners understand that healthy competition is important to industry growth and business success.

Net neutrality levels the online playing field for small businesses to compete with bigger ones.

Revoking net neutrality will make it much harder, if not impossible, for small businesses to compete at all.

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