On December 14th 2017, the FCC voted 3 – 2 to repeal the Net Neutrality rules imposed by the Obama administration. These rules were put in place so that much like our system for public utilities, the internet would be equally accessible to all consumers. The Net Neutrality rules fulfilled a need. The need to maintain access to free and open information for all individuals.

The telecom giants will tell you that the rollback of these rules is good and that less regulation is economically important. Please know that these are blatant lies. Your right to access all information sent through the internet is under fire and may soon be taken away.

I believe that everyone benefits from a free and unfiltered internet. If this repeal stands, the internet that we currently know (i.e. the videos you watch on your phone, the social media sites you visit, and the articles you read), will all be limited to what ISPs want you to view, and be delivered at an increased monthly cost.

I’ve been asked by many what the ramifications of this vote will be for the future of the internet and what the next few years may hold for businesses as access changes. Here, I’ve written my view of things as they currently stand.

Why did we need these FCC rules in the first place?

These rules were necessary. From the inception of the internet, Telecom companies such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have been looking for a way to fully monetize a customer’s usage similar to how they had monetized television.

Why are telecom pushing for the reform?

Under the Net Neutrality rules, telecom companies could only charge you for the internet service itself. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) could only charge you a higher or lower monthly cost based on the upload/download speeds they provided to you. This means they can charge you for using the internet but not for what you specifically did while you were on it.

That’s a problem for companies who are seeing a decline in their traditional revenue streams. ISPs have relied and grown on income primarily from television advertising (commercials, infomercials, etc.) and subscription content (HBO, Cinemax, Starz etc.) But television viewing has changed. A 2015 Nielsen study revealed that the average consumer’s time in front of the home television is on the decline. However, 18-49 year olds are spending more time in front of Youtube, jumping up 44%. And data from Comscore shows that 53% of Wi-Fi households in the U.S. are now using at least one over-the-top streaming service. Advertisers are moving their marketing dollars to web-based advertising following their potential customers on to web-based platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and even YouTube.

Time infront of the TV has declined, but 18-49 year olds' time on YouTube has jumped 44%

As most digital marketers are aware, this increase is due to the rising costs of traditional cable television and the pervasive usage of mobile devices and tablets for entertainment.

Telecom companies have declining advertising mediums on their hands. But rather than improving the reliability of internet speeds and other costly but beneficial improvements that would be of value to consumers (and would actually allow them to charge more), they have spent their money and energy working to remove the Net Neutrality rules. This opens up several potential new revenue streams for ISPs.

The most likely initial outcome of the rollback is the ISPs influence on site speed and the added fees associated with keeping your website freely available and easy to access by customers.

How Would an ISP Make a Website Load Slower?

As the below video explains, when you access your favorite sites like Netflix or Amazon, there is a collection of data sent to your browser, device, or App. In between your favorite website and your browser/viewing device is the ISP. The ISP can control how slow or fast you receive this data to your location.

The Obama Administration FCC rules made sure that all data sent through an ISP will be sent to your device at the same speed, regardless of the website being accessed. This way mom and pop websites can load just as fast as Amazon, Etsy, YouTube and other major sites. With these rules gone, ISPs have the ability to slow or speed up the delivery of data from specific websites.

How will this affect businesses?

Without regulations, Telecom companies can limit the loading speeds of websites that don’t pay for faster (read: current) load times. This means that large businesses will be required to pay to have their site load at a normal speed. Small businesses will have to plan for higher costs to have their website load as fast as it does now. We don’t yet know what these fees may be and whether they may be a barrier for some.

The internet has been the birthplace of countless modern online businesses because of the low overhead to get started. Many of your favorite internet businesses would not have been able to launch if ISPs charged for the basic site speed users have all come to expect.

So who cares if a website loads slow?

As a 2017 Google Study reveals, as page load time goes from one second to five seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 90%.

For anyone not in in the digital marketing industry, a “Bounce” means that someone hits the back button, leaving the site.

If you are a sewing enthusiast, this means that your favorite unique sewing website may take so long to load or navigate through that you decide to go to another competing site by a larger brand. The community of enthusiasts who post to the site’s forum, sharing ideas, answering questions and helping others will slowly use it less and less. Customers like you will no longer go to the site to make purchases. Money and opportunity will flow only to sites with the budgets to pay to play the ISPs game.

The Telecom companies will keep the internet the way it is, right?

Nope, they won’t. They have no intention to. In 2012, AT&T was caught throttling (limiting the speed) of the Apple Facetime app for users in lower monthly payment tiers. In 2009, AT&T also tried blocking Skype in order to reduce competition of their own competing service. In 2014, Verizon and Comcast were caught charging Netflix for increased speeds.

Shortly after these (and other) moves by ISPs, the Obama Administration moved to enact the FCC rules, making the internet a more equal playing field and preventing this sort of “tampering.”

Is this repeal a done deal?

There is still some hope to keep things as is, but action is needed. The FCC has voted to nullify the Net Neutrality rules, however Congress has 60 working days to evaluate, and overturn the decision. This means that we are counting on Congress to act before mid-February 2018.

What Can I Do Right Now?

Contact Congress and get your voice heard. Visit Battle for the Net to see which of your members of Congress supports or does not support Net Neutrality, then call, email, write or tweet them your opinion. You can write them directly through the site.

Battle for the Net: https://www.battleforthenet.com/


At the core of our rights, is the right of free speech. Regardless of your viewpoints, you are allowed to speak your mind (assuming you are ready for the consequences.) The flip side to that, is that anyone who wants to listen, is allowed to hear it, and can access those opinions. The internet has not only given us life-changing connections to goods and services but also to connections to real people both locally and around the world. These are people, services and information we would have potentially never connected with without unfiltered access to the internet. The FCC repeal of net neutrality and the lack of understanding in general of the web by many in Congress jeopardizes this right and is the first major shift toward allowing control of what you access and who you are able to connect with across the internet fall outside of your hands.

I encourage you to learn more by reading this great article from Popular Science author, Stan Horaczek called 11 lies you may have heard about net neutrality.