Net Neutrality “Restoring Internet Freedom” – Smoke and Mirrors

 In Digital Marketing

 

The FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order, an exceptionally misleading title, passed in December, an order that does the opposite of what the name suggests.

The FCC repealed the existing net neutrality rules that were put in place to make sure that U.S. citizens would have equal access to the internet. Now that the order has passed, the impact it will have on digital marketers and consumers alike will be profound.

The way the internet has operated since its inception in the 90s as a public communications service is going to fundamentally change. Since that beginning, it’s been a very level playing field when it comes to access. Big brands, small businesses, marketers and individual users alike had the same opportunities when it came to reaching users, without mega organizations receiving preferences in pricing, etc.

Who Comes Out on Top?

Wireless carriers and big internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast will come out on top. These organizations will have the power to come up with any type of data packages that the market will bear. They’ll be able to lie about unlimited plans, throttle bandwidth and favor the big affiliate partner traffic or payer over competitive traffic.

 

So, who is going to lose out if this takes place?

 

Content Providers

Content providers who don’t own their own distribution are at serious risk. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and every other content provider will be affected. Net neutrality was in place to ensure that companies like Comcast couldn’t favor the delivery of its own content over competitive content like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. That’s going to change.

 

Small Businesses

If you’re a startup or small business that can’t afford high-speed bandwidth, or use a lot of data, you’re going to have a problem. If the online service you use competes with an online service that major ISPs or telecoms favor, your costs and quality of service are definitely going to be affected.

 

Digital Marketers

Digital marketing represents an 80-billion-dollar industry, one that’s inherently connected to the availability of an equal and free internet. Net neutrality stimulated competition between all types and sized of businesses, generating a demand for digital marketing services that also inspired organic web traffic. Services like content marketing, social media marketing, SEO and pay-per-click promotions all fall under this umbrella. In addition, net neutrality supports a consumer-focused marketing model that strived to provide online audiences with reciprocal value for their attention and time. Because the FCC’s order passed, the internet will be dominated by top-paying sites, leaving the digital marketing industry with less influence on the direction and form of online traffic.  This will cause devastating results for digital marketers, businesses and consumers alike.

 

Regular Internet Users

These changes are going to hit regular internet users the hardest, potentially being subjected to all kinds of industry fashioned charges. They’re going to deal with slower connections or pay more if they go over the threshold set on their unlimited data plan. Consumer’s will likely get remarkable speed and service for video content that they don’t care about, and bad service while attempting to use the services they really depend on. Unfortunately, the only solution would be to pay more. Because Amazon and Netflix could end up being forced to pay additional fees to have their streaming services, we, the end users, will need to bear the cost.

 

Can the “Anti-Consumer” Order be Overturned?

It’s been reported that the Internet Association made clear that Google, Facebook, Netflix and other large tech firms that include Amazon, Microsoft are willing to put their financial clout and reputations behind the challenge to overturn the FCC’s net Neutrality ruling. In addition, the US News reported that Sen. Edward Markey is also pushing to overturn the FCC’s decision.  Sen. Markey has stated that 40 senators are going to co-sponsor a resolution focused on overturning what he referred to as “anti-consumer” regulations passed by the FCC.  Markey will need to win over other Democratic senators and Republicans to pass the appeal.

 

Since it was founded, the internet has evolved into the planet’s most ultra-powerful communications vehicle, encompassing all communication channels. That progression has been built on one fundamental idea: Every individual, organization and company has the same opportunity to reach each and every internet user in the world. Now that freedom is going to radically change and it’s not quite clear yet where the FCCs potential changes will end up leading us.

 

Mark Simmons
Mark has been a digital marketing professional since early 2000. He leverages his Fortune 500 brand experience, and analytical mind to solve challenges of all shapes and sizes for agency clients. Mark is passionate about his industry, a father of two, a marathoner, and proud alumnus of Duke University.
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