What the Net Neutrality Repeal Could Mean for Small Businesses

 

The Removal of Net Neutrality Could Affect the Way Small Businesses Are Valued Online

Net neutrality gave web users equal access to the internet. Equal opportunities to speedy web access allowed businesses to compete on an even field.  Small, online businesses were able to reach people from all over the world.

On December 14 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the regulations of 2015 for free and equal internet access. Since then, there have been several speculations as to how this will affect the way users access content on the internet. The truth is, there is no absolute answer to how or when to expect to see a change in internet services.

While many large internet service providers (ISPs) have stated that they do not plan to drastically change their services, the end of net neutrality does leave small businesses vulnerable to several possibilities.

Pay-to-Play for Web Speed

Those who can afford faster web speed will have faster web speed. Those who cannot will simply lag behind. Without regulations enforcing equal speed to websites, ISPs could start charging websites for prioritization.bigstock--210893887

Paying for website prioritization is different than paying for ad space because rather than paying for space to attract consumers to your company’s site, you are paying for your webpage to load faster than the competition’s site.

For small businesses who rely on web traffic for business, page load time is crucial for keeping consumers on their site. In a 2015 study, researchers found that 57 percent of web users will abandon a site if the page takes longer than three seconds to load. That is a huge loss in potential sales for a small business.

Struggle for Ranking on Search Engines

The speed and accessibility of your website impacts the quality score of your website. The higher the quality score, the better your site ranks on organic search. Most small businesses will not be able to afford the faster internet access that large corporations can afford. The slower load times will cause a small business’s quality score to drop and rank lower on the search engine results page.

Websites on the fibigstock-Hand-Holding-Mobile-Phone-With-172288184rst page of a Google search generate the highest click rate and web traffic. The farther a website is from the top result, the less traffic it will generate.

Paid marketing can also be affected by the quality score. When you bid to appear for certain search terms in AdWords, your website’s quality score affects how much a business pays for keywords and ad space. The lower the quality score, which is affected by speed, the more you pay per bid. This affects start-up companies looking to get their foot in the door and small businesses trying to compete with corporate giants who can either afford the faster speed or can pay the extra per bid.

Blocked Content

There’s no certainty to what the ISPs will decide to do with the deregulations. Many ISPs including Cox and AT&T have already announced that they do not plan to block content, but have remained unclear about providing fast lanes for particular websites.

An internet service provider could significantly slow down websites it views as a threat to its own content or to the content of the companies the internet provider has a partnership with.

The advantage consumers have over their ISPs is their freedom to choose who they choose as their internet provider. If one ISP begins to block content or slow down particular websites, people will simply just switch to a different provider. The diversity in internet providers could be what protects small businesses from falling through the cracks.

Again, nothing is set in stone. The repeal of net neutrality could change absolutely nothing, or it could greatly affect the innovation of starting companies and the way small businesses compete for web traffic.


Ashley Boudreaux is a senior at LSU. She is currently studying Mass Communication and French. In her free time, she enjoys visiting petting zoos and climbing trees.

Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc. 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving clients over the United States but is proud to call Baton Rouge, Louisiana home. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.

 

Net Neutrality - Why it Matters for your Business

Net Neutrality – Why it Matters for your Business

Will Your Business Survive if Net Neutrality is Gone?

Recently, there’s been a lot of debate about net neutrality. Opinions have been ranging from good to bad to confused. For such a controversial issue, the definition of net neutrality is often blurred, turning an important phrase into an empty buzzword. With so many misconceptions and even more confusion, we’ll be breaking down and explaining what net neutrality actually is and why it should matter to you and your business.

What Exactly is “Net Neutrality”?

What is net neutralityAt its core, net neutrality is the principle that everyone should have equal access to all data on the internet. Internet connection is normally a paid service provided by Internet Service Providers also known as ISPs.

Without net neutrality in place, ISPs could elect to provide priority access to the internet to select customers This would allow ISPs to potentially discriminate and apply charges differently based on the platform, IP address, or even the data being accessed at a given time. Because of this, net neutrality is often referred to as the First Amendment of the internet.

The big supporters of net neutrality are content creators such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. Companies opposed to net neutrality are typically ISP companies such as Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and Cox. The main division of government that is charged with regulating all of these companies and the internet is the Federal Communications Commission, better known as the FCC. Now that we have a better understanding of what net neutrality is and all the players on the table, let’s talk about why it’s at risk of being taken away.

Why is Net Neutrality at Threat?

Many of the laws currently regulating the internet were set up by the FCC in 2015. The laws established in 2015 were primarily put in place to regulate ISPs and to allow the FCC to regulate both wireless and wired-in connections to the internet. By regulating ISPs, the FCC Why is net neutrality at threatwas able to keep ISPs from charging premium access to the internet. With the laws in place, the FCC could freely set rates and allow open competition within the web.

Former Verizon lawyer and new chairperson of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has been pushing to overturn the 2015 regulation since April of 2017. In May of 2017, the FCC announced intentions to repeal the initial order and to replace it with another later in the year. From May 18 to July 17 the FCC opened up a 90-day comment period to hear from the public on the issue. The FCC must reply to the publics’ opinions by August 16, before the final vote on the potential new regulation later this year.

But What’s at Risk for You?

Net neutrality is extremely beneficial for any company active on the internet, whether it’s their digital marketing efforts, daily research needs, or client services. Net neutrality tremendously evens the playing field on the internet. It allows for even-access competition without the need to worry that other players may have an advantage because they can pay more to ISPs. In this same vein, you can start a business online with a new idea easily. Net neutrality allows anyone to start on the internet and automatically be within the same playing field as internet giants like Amazon or Facebook.Net neutrality is currently at risk

Currently with net neutrality, starting a website is a relatively pain-free process. If you decide to start a website to grow your company, you don’t have to worry about paying-off ISPs just to potentially show up in front of customers. Rather than being penalized for not paying more to receive a decent internet speed, you’re already guaranteed that with net neutrality.

How well your website performs, including in speed and your ranking, will not be penalized if you can’t pay for better speeds. When you have to pay for better service or reach, how successful you are will be based on how much influence or money you have or can pay. New start-up companies and websites will have a much lesser chance of success when in opposition to a mega-company like Amazon if net neutrality no longer exists.

Removing net neutrality only really benefits big companies with a strong brand and Internet Service Providers. Smaller businesses and start-ups will most likely struggle to stay afloat.


Madison Martin is a senior at Louisiana State University pursing a degree in mass communication with a specialization in digital advertising, and a minor in fine art. In her free time, Madison enjoys drawing, napping, and playing video games.

Work with Catapult Creative Media Inc. 

Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a digital marketing and design agency serving clients over the United States but is proud to call Baton Rouge, Louisiana home. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.