Net Neutrality Might Go Away, but Business-Class Internet Performance Shouldn’t
Net neutrality—the idea that ISPs should charge a fair price for allowing consumers and businesses to access and share whatever content they want from any device and from any location—is being voted on today, and odds don’t look good for it to continue.
On Thursday, the FCC, led by its new chairman and former industry lobbyist Ajit Pai, will likely vote to reject the classification of ISPs as carriers. In effect, the FCC will surrender its ability to enforce previous FCC guidelines mandating that all consumers and businesses have equal access to all Internet content for a fair price. If an ISP prices its services extravagantly and limits access to Internet content, customers would still be able to complain to the FTC, though it’s not clear that the FTC has legal authority to do much about ISP infractions. Otherwise, consumers and businesses will be stuck with whatever service—however arbitrary and limited—and whatever pricing—however complex and exorbitant—ISPs care to provide.
At InSpeed, We’re Dedicated to IT Innovation, and Useful IT Innovation Depends on net neutrality
Today start-ups and large businesses alike are working hard to create solutions that genuinely help consumers and businesses. Without net neutrality, much of that labor and brainpower will likely be diverted to redesigning applications and IT architectures to avoid ISP surcharges. IT vendors and internal IT departments will be forced to spend long hours redesigning solutions once plentiful network bandwidth becomes a scarce and potentially heavily-priced resource. Markets will likely become inhospitable to start-ups lacking big war chests and powerful friends. ISPs might win, but businesses and hundreds of millions of consumers will lose.
Freedom, According to the FCC
Don’t take our word for it. Take the FCC’s. In 2004, FCC Chairman (and Republican) Michael K. Powell articulated four freedoms that must be preserved for the Internet. The four freedoms are:
Freedom to Access Content
Consumers should have access to their choice of legal content.
Freedom to Use Applications
Consumers should be able to run the applications of their choice.
Freedom to Attach Personal Devices
Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes.
Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information
Fourth, consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans.
As a start-up serving SMBs across the U.S., we at InSpeed would like to propose a fifth freedom:
Freedom to Deliver Content
Consumers and businesses should be able to deliver content at any speed to any consumer using any device at any location.
Start-ups and small businesses should be able to deliver whatever content and services they like without worrying that their network traffic will be deprioritized or throttled in any way. Start-ups should be able to bring innovative solutions to market, even if they haven’t paid duties to Fortune 500 ISPs or struck alliances with the incumbents they’re trying to displace.
We believe in a neutral, equitable Internet where:
- Physical connectivity is priced as a broadly available commodity.
- Access is regulated just as access to other public utilities is regulated.
- Financially disadvantaged consumers are not shut out from Internet access.
- Consumers and businesses alike can choose whatever ISP they like, knowing that they’ll always have access to all services and all legal Internet content.
- Businesses can pick the level of service they want and can adopt whatever networking solution they like for optimizing performance.
No matter what happens in Thursday’s vote, we’ll remain committed to delivering business class service that works over any ISP—InSpeed is Over-The-Top (OTT) whatever underlying infrastructure ISPs provide. But we would prefer to do so on a neutral Internet that is being managed in accordance with the guidelines the FCC has been espousing for over a decade.
If you’re interested in switching to an ISP that is dedicated to preserving the principles of net neutrality, see our forthcoming list of ISPs supporting net neutrality.
If you’d like to voice your support for net neutrality, you can call the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at (202) 418-1000.