With a new Supreme Court justice on the horizon the discussion of Net Neutrality is again a hot topic. But for many business owners (and consumers) the topic is one that leaves you with more questions than answers. At it’s core Net Neutrality refers to the principle that ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) treat all content equally, meaning that they don’t “throttle” certain websites due to their content, user, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. This means that, as an example, AT&T cannot slow down your internet when you are using functions such as Netflix or Facetime in order to encourage you to purchase one of their more extensive data plans. Or, as in the case of Comcast, your ISP cannot slow down your connection because it detects you are using file-sharing services such as Bittorrent (or Napster from back in the day).
So why is Net Neutrality important to you? Imagine as a business owner you use certain applications that require your staff to spend a lot of time on the internet. Or you have a website that drives customers and experiences high traffic. Now imagine you have a competitor that is 5x’s your size and can pay the ISP a large sum to ensure that they receive the top speeds available. Your ability to compete on an equal playing field can make the difference between a profitable company and one that is struggling to keep afloat.
The battle for Net Neutrality has been going for years, and many believe that our current nominee for the Supreme Court has shown where he stands on the issue and what that will mean going forward. Regardless of the politics, understand what that means for you as a business person and whether it may have an impact on your bottom line.