Net Neutrality and How It Affects Your Business

Net neutrality is a set of rules based on the principle that internet service providers treat all of the information online equally and do not charge users different fees based on the type or amount of content they would like to access. Without net neutrality, users could be charged more to stream music or videos online and Internet providers could control the speed of and access to specific sites.

Essentially, net neutrality prohibited service providers from doing the following:

  • Blocking websites and apps
  • Throttling, which is slowing data transmission based on the type of content
  • Allowing paid prioritization, or charging fees to optimize data transfer rates

The rules were enacted in 2015 but in December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality, meaning service providers were no longer required to provide equal access to all content. The repeal officially went into effect on June 11, 2018. This means that service providers can start bundling services into packages and charge different prices based on the type of online experience a customer wants.

The repeal of net neutrality impacts everything ranging from the music we stream online to our social media accounts and online shopping experience. And even though many providers have pledged not to block or change the way we experience and access content, the Internet as we know it is no longer the same.

Individuals have expressed concern over their right to have equal access to content without being charged additional fees, but for businesses and individuals that rely on the internet to generate their income, there is even greater concern. Online marketing is how many businesses both large and small attract customers and showcase their products. In fact, businesses are encouraged to increase their online presence by revamping their websites and being active on social media to promote site traffic and draw in potential customers.

The Repeal of Net Neutrality Presents Several Challenges for Small Businesses

For businesses, the online world is where you can increase brand awareness by reaching a wide audience — often at a cost that is significantly less than other methods of advertising. More and more people are also using the internet to do their shopping, whether it’s from marketplaces, large retailers or specialty stores and small businesses.

Now imagine if suddenly those businesses were harder to find or if people clicked away from their sites because they don’t want to pay more money for a faster browsing experience or to access specific content. Speed is already an important factor for site visitors. According to statistics from section.io, a page load speed of two seconds results in a 9.6 percent bounce rate, and a page load speed of seven seconds results in a 32.3 percent bounce rate. Every second matters, and if a page is purposely slowed down by an internet service provider it could result in a reduced number of conversions, which affects sales.   Bounce rates can also affect your search engine ranking in Google, resulting in a potential loss of visibility.

Smaller businesses already work hard to keep up with the competition from “big-box” stores and online marketplaces, and the repeal of net neutrality could potentially make it even harder for them to get noticed by potential customers. Without net neutrality in effect, business could be required to pay more to maintain their website’s page speed or to have specific content on their site. They could also be subject to fees that would impact how their employees access and use the Internet. For a small business or a startup, these additional costs could have a serious and negative impact on profits.

Businesses use websites for online communication, providing product and company information, and to increase their customer reach and gain insight on consumer behavior. The changes in net neutrality could potentially result in diminished site performance and have a negative impact on user experience.

As an internet marketing company, Ecreativeworks understands the importance of your site visitors being able to access content without any restrictions. We will continue to follow net neutrality updates and  provide you with customized industrial marketing solutions that help you attract and retain customers.

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