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Net Neutrality: An End for Online Entrepreneurs?

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Please read my disclosure agreement here. 

Update: Since this post was published, the FCC voted to repeal Net Neutrality in a 3 to 2 vote.

I’ll start off by saying this is not one of my normal topics but it is so important to everyone that I had to speak up. When I started this blog, I never thought it could be over before it began. However, this may be the case if the vote on December 14th, 2017 to revoke Net Neutrality passes.

On February 26th, 2015, the FCC voted to pass the Open Internet Order, enacting the strongest net neutrality rules in history. The Chairman at the time, Tom Wheeler and the FCC earned a reputation as defenders of the Open Internet until the new Chairman, Ajit Pai, was selected. Now, Chairman Pai, who was appointed in January 2017 by President Trump,  is holding a vote to roll back the open-internet rules on Dec.14th, 2017.

www.TheHill.com states the FCC has failed to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on the tens of thousands of filed complaints that directly shed light on proposed changes to existing net neutrality protections to which Pai’s office declined to comment. In response, protesters flooded Verizon stores on December 7th and dozens took to the streets of Los Angeles a few days prior.

Before I dive in, you might ask: What is Net Neutrality? Net Neutrality is the principle that individuals should be free to access all content and applications equally, regardless of the source, without ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) discriminating against specific online services or websites. Simply put, the company that connects you to the internet does not control what you do on the internet.

Net Neutrality is the principle that individuals should be free to access all content and applications equally

Too much of the traffic is coming from a handful of companies and, as they say, ‘with great power come great responsibility’. Without strong Net Neutrality Rules in place, the ISP’s have a lot more power than they should. Some fear that ISP’s could grow so large that they have undue control over the market and can decide who gets access to what connection and at what price.

INTERNET TERMINOLOGY CHEAT SHEET

Internet Backbone: The collection of cables and data centers that make up the core of the internet. This is operated not by a single operation but by many independent companies spread across the globe.

Internet Service Provider, or ISP: A company, such as Comcast or Verizon or Time Warner, that plugs into the backbone and then provides internet connections to homes and businesses.

Content Provider: Companies such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix that provide the webpages, videos, and other content that moves across the internet.

Peering: Where one internet operation connects directly to another, so that they can trade traffic. This could be a connection between an ISP such as Comcast and an internet backbone provider such as Level 3. But it could also be a direct connection between an ISP and a content provider such as Google.

Content Delivery Network, or CDN: A network of computer servers set up inside an ISP that delivers popular photos, videos, and other content. These servers can deliver this content faster to home users because they’re closer to home users. Companies such as Akamai and Cloudflare run CDNs that anyone can use. But content providers such as Google and Netflix now run their own, private CDNs as well.

Ref. https://www.wired.com/2014/06/net_neutrality_missing/

What does this mean to you? While you may not be a blogger or online entrepreneur, it affects end-users too.

Traffic

 

      • “Virtually all sales, from the largest company to the smallest new business, now rely on the internet.”
      • President Trump already repealed privacy rules which required your ISP to obtain your permission before selling your web browsing history to advertisers. Now, we have to be concerned with traffic shaping which is when the ISP throttles (slows down access) specific types of data if they do not conform to a data packet profile or they can block it completely.
      • Talent and quality of product and services could be damaged because of the unfair advantage of those with money and influence.
      • Web metrics site kissmetrics say’s 50% of all internet users expect their pages to load in 2 seconds or less. A mere one second delay increases bounce rate (the likelihood of a user to leave your site) to 7%.
      • ISP’s like Verizon and Comcast can prevent users from visiting some websites, provide slower speeds for services like Netflix and Hulu or even redirect users from one website to a competing website. This is a form of traffic manipulation. What if you wrote an awesome article only to find out that your readers were redirected to your competitor causing detrimental damage to your traffic? What would this mean for your sales? This is censorship via redirection.
      • Talent and quality of product and services could be damaged because of the unfair advantage of those with money and influence.

Cost

 

      • According to www.worksighted.com, web marketers jobs could be at risk. This includes bloggers who offer coaching services on these topics or obtain clients with their marketing services. This is due to ISP’s that can charge more to clients for website access to “premium” sites and charge websites more to get their services/products to clients faster.
      • This makes it much tougher for online entrepreneurs to get started or to continue growing. Right now, it’s easy to start an online business and it’s inexpensive because there aren’t fees owed to an ISP.
      • Companies will be able to buy priority access to ISP customers. Ultimately, users will bear these additional costs from subscription services like Hulu and Netflix because of the fees that ISP’s could charge to those services.
      • This includes if you go over your “data limit”, meaning the ISP can charge you fees to continue using your data similar to your data plan on your phone. A simple explanation: you currently pay for the speeds you want as a package but without Net Neutrality, you’ll pay for what websites you use. It’s like UPS, you’re paying for the weight of your package not the contents inside.

The Bloggers Nightmare

 

      • This also increases the competition from the big guys who have the money and power to throw their weight around and demand priority access. This also means ISP’s can cap your data if your website is using too many resources.
      • SEO will become obsolete as it may not be useful for driving traffic if the ISP’s are allowed to dictate what you can see and who gets priority access.
      • Privileged companies – including Google, Facebook and Netflix already benefit from what are essentially fast lanes, and this has been the case for years. These companies paid for the hardware required to have this privilege and the smaller businesses are not limited or restricted as a direct result of this privilege.
      • Time to get Technical. Some Web Giants run dedicated computer servers within ISP’s known as “peering connections” and “content delivery servers” and they are a vital part of the way the internet works. These larger companies do this because they handle so much traffic and want to keep their customers happy.
      • Tim Wu, the creator of the term “Net Neutrality” says that “The fast lane is not a literal truth…but it’s a sense that you should have a fair shot.” The real issue is that companies like Comcast and Verizon are becoming too big and too powerful and may eventually have too much freedom to decide how much companies, and ultimately end users, must pay for fast speeds.

If the vote on December 14th, 2017 passes,  companies like Verizon will be free to censor online content, monetization may be affected, advertisements can be pulled and access to blogger’s sites can be throttled, drastically reducing visitors and causing detrimental losses to income.

Internet users deserve an open, fair, and competitive internet . A few ISP’s control all access to the internet in the USA. This is dangerously close to becoming a monopoly and gives the ISP’s undue power that they can wield like a child with a magnifying glass, burning all the little ants (Online Start-up’s). Competition is the best way to solve the ISP conglomerate along with keeping Net Neutrality in place.

The Future and Hope

What can we do to protect our business?

There is hope. Many people believe in the founding principles of the internet and over 600,000 people used the BattlefortheNet.com call tool to reach out to their members of Congress.

Now, Members of Congress are expressing their support for the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine became the first GOP senator to publicly oppose Pai’s proposal, joining scores of Democratic leaders who have been speaking out.

Aside from contacting our representatives, protesting, we can utilize VPN. Now we’re getting techie.

A VPN, or virtual private network to you non-technical folks, is a form of Internet security with benefits, including the ability to create neutrality on any connection.

Imagine if you will a giant water pipe taking water to the biggest city on earth. The pipe is the ISP and the water is all the traffic flowing through it. As the water passes from one end of the connection to the other it passes through ISP way-stations that have the power to throttle connections or capped flow.

Now imagine a straw that begins outside the city at your house and ends inside the city at your bank, or a store, or a streaming media service. The straw connects you to your end-point but also provides a bit of invisibility, almost an illusion, like a rainbow, something you can see but can’t touch. Now imagine that straw is inside the pipe and you get the idea of what VPN can do for Internet users

According to www.le-vpn.com, “VPN was created with a blend of government and private sector research to ensure secure, untraceable and unreadable data transfer across a public connection” what we call web browsing. It uses the ISP as a stepping stone to the Internet, bypassing its servers in a digital tunnel, and connects to a designated VPN server.

If you want a more specific explanation of exactly how this works, visit www.le-vpn.com

With a VPN, the ISP is aware of the connection from their subscriber (The Client) but they don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. Therefore, they cannot cap your data usage, throttle your connection speed or strong arm consumers or businesses for premium services. If all Internet users connected via VPNs it would make the debate over net neutrality obsolete.

Thank you for reading. I’m sorry for all the references but I want to show support and provide the best possible information for my readers.

xoxo

-Kiana

Show your Support: Freepress.net is teaming up with partner Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition to host a Net Neutrality Wake-Up Call Rally 10 outside the FCC in Washington on December 14th, the morning of the big vote. Visit www.battleforthenet.com to take action and www.savetheinternet.com for more information on Net Neutrality.

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Resources

https://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/net-neutrality

https://www.wired.com/2014/06/net_neutrality_missing/

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/351785-senate-dems-ask-fcc-to-delay-net-neutrality-repeal – Resource

https://moz.com/blog/net-neutrality-seo-whiteboard-friday – Resource how net neutrality affects SEO and Online Marketing

https://www.worksighted.com/blog/how-can-net-neutrality-affect-your-business/ – Resource

https://www.le-vpn.com/net-neutrality/ – Resource Pros and Cons of Net Neutrality

“Maine Sen. Susan Collins Signals Her Endorsement of Net Neutrality,” The Daily Dot, Nov. 25, 2017: https://act.freepress.net/go/17949?t=11&akid=7501%2E11124338%2EPMYmv4

“Verizon Protests,” Team Internet, Nov. 28, 2017: http://act.freepress.net/go/17934?t=13&akid=7501%2E11124338%2EPMYmv4

“FCC’s Potential Repeal of Net Neutrality Protested in L.A.,” KABC, Nov. 28, 2017: http://act.freepress.net/go/17950?t=15&akid=7501%2E11124338%2EPMYmv4

“Net Neutrality Wake Up Call,” Voices for Internet Freedom, Nov. 28, 2017: https://act.freepress.net/go/17913?t=17&akid=7501%2E11124338%2EPMYmv4

 

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