On December 14, 2017 in the United States the FCC removed net neutrality rules. The loss that small business owners and bloggers will take from the death of net neutrality cannot yet be determined, but I still want to take a moment to address net neutrality and discuss how it can affect bloggers and entrepreneurs.
What Is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality basically means that you have free access to everything on the internet. When you pay for your internet, you are receiving it in its entirety.
You don’t pay extra to go on Facebook and you don’t have to pay extra to read the news.
It basically means that everything is treated as equal and creates an equal playing field for all.
American Internet Service Providers (ISP) such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon were previously not allowed to charge the user extra to view different websites, and weren’t allowed to block any content or slow the internet down based upon which websites you are using.
That is until December 14 in the United States.
What Happens With No Net Neutrality
It’s very difficult to say what American internet will look like with no net neutrality. As of now, everything has just been speculation.
One thing ISPs can do is intentionally slow down or block access to certain websites unless you pay extra to unlock them.
Take this example for Portugal of how their internet looks with no net neutrality:
As you can see, the web is divided up based upon certain packages that you have to pay for in order to access.
So let’s say you are with Comcast and they decide to create their own version of YouTube, called “ComTube”. What they would likely do, is block access to YouTube for their customers, but give them access to “ComTube” instead. If you wanted to access YouTube, you’d have to pay a premium.
They could also slow down websites and require them to pay extra to be delivered to the user quickly. For example, AT&T could purposely slow down Netflix (which it seems they already tried doing in the past, illegally) and force Netflix to pay them if they want to speed up their service.
Netflix would almost have to pay extra in order to keep their service running smooth or they would risk losing their customers.
But once Netflix incurs this extra fee, they would likely pass it on to the user. So in the end, you pay more for your internet and you also pay more for other internet services.
How The Loss Of Net Neutrality Affects Entrepreneurs And Bloggers
With net neutrality, blogging and running an online business was an even playing field. Without net neutrality, it’s really difficult to say how this could look for bloggers and online business owners, however, it could become harder for them to be seen.
If ISPs decide to block access to blogging and news site unless their users pay extra, you’ll lose visibility for that segment of your audience.
Small businesses and bloggers take a hit because they are not able to afford the costs to keep their website visible for all areas of the net.
Net neutrality allowed competition to regulate the marketplace but now the internet will become regulated by ISPs and possibly by those who are financially able to afford to get their content seen.
As a Canadian, you may not think this impacts me, however, my traffic to my website is largely American. Nearly all my clients are American so net neutrality still has a huge impact on my business, and can for yours as well.
We won’t know much until ISPs begin to roll-out their new plans, so in the meantime it’s important to make sure you keep informed and stay up to date with what is happening regarding net neutrality.
My first thought was that large corporations such as Facebook would be able to capitalize on the loss of net neutrality by offering platforms for businesses to host their content. For example, Facebook could potentially offer a new type of business page that are more custom and look more like a website.
This would allow for businesses to be able to stay in front of customers without worrying about paying to get their content seen (which could be blocked unless they pay premium fees).
While this isn’t ideal for the blogger or business owner, it is certainly possible.
What You Can Do Next
There is not much you can do until you start seeing how the internet will change. I’d recommend focusing on your business or blog as usual, and making sure you aren’t placing all your eggs in one basket.
If social media is going to be offered as a lowest tier package, it’s important to make sure your social media accounts are growing and thriving because that may become the easiest way to get in front of your target audience at all times.
You should also focus on growing your email list so that you can stay in regular touch with those who want to follow your content.
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