How an Evolving perception of Net Neutrality will benefit Small Businesses.

An Open Internet means users are not limited to guidelines on what to search or when to search, on the contrary an Open Internet, or Net Neutrality, allows for free range of the internet. It fosters growth, as developers are able to create on their whims[1]. Net Neutrality sees consumers pursue faster broadband, as with its regulations, implemented by the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, broadband providers are not allowed to create special “fast lanes” depending on the content[2].

During the previous administration the FCC implemented Open Internet rules, some of which protect free expression and innovation on the internet, while also promoting broadband networks. The FCC’s Open Internet rules link themselves to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996[3]. In particular, Section 202 of Title II of the Communications Act, Discrimination and Preferences, makes it “unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services… to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality”[4]. This is all done in attempts to regulate against paid prioritization, which would give financially dominant companies priority of broadband speed, fast lanes, and leave smaller companies with slower un-prioritized lanes[5]. Paid prioritization would make it so streaming giants Netflix and Hulu could block any possible entry, as their broadband would remain at a constant fast speed, allowing one to browse and binge watch shows without the fear of buffering. On the other hand smaller streaming services would find themselves in a viewer decline as their inability to pay for a fast lane would leave their services loading and lagging. Viewers would switch from the small businesses unable to afford a fast lane, to the larger businesses able to maintain a fast, reliable web speed.

By June 12, 2015, the FCC’s Open Internet rules were cemented, ensuring consumers and businesses fair, fast internet[6]. Chairman of the FCC, Thomas Wheeler described the Open Internet Rules as “a referee on the field to protect consumers and innovators on line” Wheeler later says “After a decade of debate these rules finally provide strong safeguards for free expression and innovation on the internet”[7].

To ensure Net Neutrality continued beyond 2015, the Open Internet rules implemented a legal standard for other broadband provider practices, to ensure the rules do not unjustly interfere with small businesses[8].     

Now, in 2017, under a new administration, and under a new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, the question again is brought up, How will we improve our Net Neutrality laws even more so? Pai has history serving the FCC; he was previously the Federal Communications Commission’s Republican commissioner and while his current views on Net Neutrality are not as voiced as previously where he was stated against it, a recent statement of his is as follows, “I look forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans”[9].

Pai comes into the Administration not too different from how former commissioner Thomas Wheeler entered. Wheeler was a former lobbyist for large cable and wireless companies as well as the president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Many feared Wheeler’s views on Net Neutrality. However, he turned out to be very pro-neutrality throughout his term as FCC Commissioner.

As the internet evolves, so too will Net Neutrality. The unpopular idea of paid prioritization, fast lanes and big businesses vying for web speed against small businesses will be discussed frequently within the coming four years. The best way to be prepared is to be knowledgeable.

Works Cited

[1] (“Open Internet” 2016)

[2] (Green “How Changes to Net Neutrality Laws Could Affect Small Businesses” 2017)

[3] (“Open Internet” 2016)

[4] (“Communications Act” 1934)

[5] (“Why net neutrality activists are pushing for Title II classification for ISPs” 2014)

[6] (“Open Internet” 2016)

[7] (“Open Internet” 2016)

[8] (Green “How Changes to Net Neutrality Laws Could Affect Small Businesses” 2017)

[9] (Albanesius “Trump Picks Net Neutrality Foe as New FCC Chairman” 2017)

Albanesius, Chloe. “Trump Picks Net Neutrality Foe as New FCC Chairman.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Communications Act 1934, 36 §§ Title II-202 (a)-202 (c) (1934). Print.

Green, Keegan. “How Changes to Net Neutrality Laws Could Affect Small Businesses.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Telecommunications Act , 119 § Title VII-706 (1996). Print.

Dailydot. “Why net neutrality activists are pushing for Title II classification for ISPs.” The Daily Dot. N.p., 20 May 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

“Open Internet.” Federal Communications Commission. N.p., 25 Aug. 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.