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Net Neutrality and Your Business

     What is Net Neutrality? Simply put, Net Neutrality is a means of making the internet an equal and level playing field for all. It's the idea that internet providers are obliged to communicate all data consistently and at equal fees. In actuality, this concept has been in practice for some time, but, several providers are campaigning for change.

In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission instituted the "Open Internet Order", which included the following language in order to: "...preserve the internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression and end user control, competition and the freedom to innovate without permission". If interpreted as intended, this directive:

1. Mandated Internet Service Providers (ISP) from barring certain online applications or services.

2. Barred ISP from discriminating, restricting or hindering their competition and other online innovative opportunities.

3. Stopped ISP from providing preferential treatment to specific sites or services.

4. Prohibited ISP form deliberately delaying access to certain sides by deliberately slowing speeds to reach them.

5. Prevented companies from purchasing preferential access from ISP.

In January of 2014, a successful lawsuit brought by Verizon, resulted in the DC District Court's dismissal of the FCC's Net Neutrality Rules. The court's decision stopped short of taking authority over the internet from the FCC, affording the agency an opportunity to review and improve their original ruling.

In April, 2014, the reports surfaced claiming the FCC had amended their Net Neutrality Rules. The major change allowed ISP to charge companies for preferential placement and/or treatment if it was considered "commercially reasonable".

The actual disclosure of this policy was made at the FCC's open meeting in May, 2014. The public's opposition was echoed by media and policy makers. Responses will be considered before anything is finalized. While the first round of replies were due July 18th, the public may continue to forward their comments until September 15th, 2014.

In the interest of fairness and the "level playing field" that served as the original goal of this ruling, one important question that must be answered is: How will the new Net Neutrality Rule affect small businesses?

Most small business owners and advisors agree there are three important details to be considered:

Should the ISP initiate payment plans that would most likely include higher fees for faster access, small businesses, start-ups or temporarily struggling businesses would undoubtedly suffer. Obviously, if certain business are unable to afford higher prices, their websites and content would be forced to compete with those of the companies who have the funds to pay for faster speeds and premier placement. This could have irretrievable consequences for smaller businesses and possibly force them to close their doors.

Since free video marketing would be directly and seriously impacted by the revised ruling, small businesses that employ promotional videos as a major marketing strategy, would be severely stifled if not totally debilitated. For example, many small businesses use "YouTube" as a means of displaying and or demonstrating their products. This once free option would no longer be available to them.

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of the original Net Neutrality Law was its ability to support the "entrepreneurial spirit". One individual with drive and vision and an outstanding idea, could possibly maintain the same internet exposure as a large company with a huge budget capable of funding a professional advertising campaign created by a top firm. Everyone would lose, if this opportunity is lost!

That is why it is crucial for small businesses to remain knowledgeable of any changes to the Net Neutrality Rule and be prepared as to how those changes can affect your marketing endeavors, your internet presence and above all...your profitability!

Article Source:

Sandra Riker, PSJ Business Solutions Sandra Riker is the Founder and Chief Accountant for PSJ Business Solutions. PSJ Business Solutions provides accounting and bookkeeping services to clients throughout the United States. At PSJ Business Solutions our primary goal is "Accounting For Your Best Interest".

Posted on 2014-08-31, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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