RSS feed Get our RSS feed

News by Topic

BizReport : Law & Regulation : July 05, 2018

What businesses need to know about net neutrality

While many headlines have lamented the end of net neutrality, many small businesses aren't sure exactly what net neutrality is or how it could affect their business. We asked on expert what SMBs need to understand about the changes to net neutrality in the US.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What is net neutrality?

Jessica Ortega, Product Marketing Specialist and Technical Writer at SiteLock: Net Neutrality refers to a set of guidelines passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015 that were designed to ensure internet service providers (ISPs) serve all content from all sources equally. Effectively, this meant that an ISP could not charge more for faster access to some sites while throttling or blocking others.

Kristina: What do the changes to net neutrality mean for businesses and brands?

Jessica: The impact of ending net neutrality will vary for businesses and brands based on their industry and their size. For example, telecommunications and ISP companies are very much in favor of removing these guidelines, because they stand to profit from the move substantially. This profit is driven by allowing ISPs to charge customers more for faster access to certain sites, or charging website owners a premium for the right to have sites accessible on their network resulting in significant financial gain for telecom companies and ISPs.

However, for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the end of net neutrality could be catastrophic. Internet service providers and telecommunications companies would essentially control the speed and accessibility of websites served to their customers. This could mean throttling the speed of SMB and personal websites with fewer visitors in favor of serving content from enterprise level corporations that can afford to pay for a higher "tier" of service. Throttling speeds means longer load times for sites that cannot afford to pay-to-play, and studies have shown that abandonment rates increase as website load time increases. For example, a large online retailer who is able to pay this price could have much shorter load times than an SMB eCommerce site who can't afford to pay such a premium, causing a loss of traffic and potential revenue for the smaller business.

Kristina: What about for consumers?

Jessica: Consumers may face increased difficulties accessing their favorite content with the end of the net neutrality guidelines. Telephone and internet service providers (ISPs) can now create custom service "packages" that would charge more for access to certain sites, similar to how cable companies charge more for access to premium channels. Theoretically, this could mean consumers would have to pay more for a "social media" package that allows access to popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, or "streaming media" packages that allow access to sites such as Netflix and Hulu. ISPs with a vested interest in certain sites or search engines could also choose to block access to specific competitors on their networks. For many consumers, access to internet service provider choices are already limited by geography, similar to utility providers, which would prevent consumers from shopping around if they don't like the available packages.

Kristina: What changes to security protocols should SMBs make because of these changes?

Jessica: Net neutrality guidelines have no direct relation to cybersecurity practices, though in theory, websites that load faster could become more favorable targets for cybercriminals in the future because those will be the only sites that are accessible. That said, SMBs should continue to take cybersecurity measures into their own hands by remaining vigilant and proactive in protecting their websites and information. Actively utilizing tools such as automatic daily malware scanners and web application firewalls ensures that regardless of any type of internet legislation, their sites remain online and protected from cyber threats.

Tags: advertising, ecommerce, internet, law & regulation, net neutrality, SiteLock

Subscribe to BizReport



Copyright © 1999- BizReport. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of BizReport content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
BizReport shall not be liable for any errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.