The battle within our government regarding Net Neutrality is something that has been raging for several years—and it’s something that could very well impact consumers and businesses alike. Some say that it will be good for ISPs, Cable and Telecom, etc., to be able to have better controls over bandwidth while enabling better margins on services.
Others say that the ability to enact control over internet usage could result in companies being pushed out of competitive spaces, simultaneously impacting consumers with higher internet prices but delivering less speed and/or access to certain types of content.
And though this is perhaps a politically charged debate, I for one believe it’s a debate worth having—placing aside the gang affiliations of political parties for a moment to look at the real outcomes of how Net Neutrality affects Americans in real life.
First, let’s take a look at the idea of allowing service providers the ability to control bandwidth based on content. Personally (and I mean that as a private citizen and not from an executive perspective), I’m not overly pleased with the idea, and here’s why. For one, the idea that a company can limit bandwidth based on content is a slippery slope that we may not want to step onto. For example, we all know that most companies have political associations, that’s no secret. And regardless of your political leanings, the idea that any company can suddenly limit your access to information—liberal, conservative, or otherwise—is a scary prospect. It creates the ability to control content based on bias. That’s un-American.
Furthermore, there is also the harm that it could bring to the entrepreneurial spirit. If the largest of providers were to decide to create their own versions of successful business models (Amazon, Netflix, and so on), they could in fact make it harder for people to access those services, while making it easier to access their own—virtually (pardon the pun) stealing marketshare by way of controls that only they have.
Then, of course, there is the impact on innovation itself. Our collective global ecosystem is based on the premise that people can share information, work from anywhere in the world, and rely on infrastructure that may not be in their own backyard. If at anytime that information is throttled or subject to higher costs due to bandwidth usage, budgets for research and the subsequent innovative aspects of it are negatively impacted.
And finally—at least for the purposes of this blog—where would the aforementioned scenarios leave Americans in alignment with the rest of the world? If our innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is impacted only within our borders, the world will inevitably move on without us. The main misconception of the internet is that it can somehow maintain borders—it can’t. With digital transformation as the new global phenomenon, all things and all people being connected to all chosen services at once, the idea of removing Net Neutrality can’t work. The internet has never and can never exist in a vacuum.
In all, I for one am hopeful that Net Neutrality is restored. And so do most Americans: 86% to be exact. And before the conclusion is made that this is a Democrat versus Republican issue, 86% of Republicans were also against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to allow broadband providers from slowing or blocking access to the internet or charging companies higher fees for faster access. In the end, this is not partisan politics—it’s simply what is right for American citizens.