Looking Beyond the Politics of Net Neutrality

By - February 12, 2015

What might it mean for your business?

In the past few months, you may have heard the term Net Neutrality come up at some point. It’s been on CSPAN and in newscasts and newspapers for a while. Several late-night shows have had some fun with the topic as well, two rather infamous ones are John Stewart with John Hodgman on The Daily Show and John Oliver on Last Week Tonight and tried to break down what it all means for the average consumer. Net Neutrality has also become a political hot button that often leaves most people even more confused beyond the technical jargon.

Today, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are classified as information services which include little government regulation. They’re allowed to act as any other business, set their services and rates as they please. Last week, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed reclassifying ISP under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This re-classification would force ISPs to function as “common carriers” with the equivalent regulations of any other public utility such as telephone or electric service. Proponents of this move argue that ISPs have become monopolies and take tax dollars from the Universal Service Fund, provide minimal service at the highest prices, and conspire with one another to divide service territories to eliminate competition. Opponents argue that this classification will allow the United States government to take control of the Internet.

So, politics aside, what impact could this have on your business? In many areas of the country, consumers and businesses alike have few options for broadband internet. With the new FCC definition of broadband, any service under 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up is no longer considered “broadband.” In many areas, there is a single cable provider capable of delivering these speeds. Often times, DSL connections are either not available or at speeds so low they aren’t functional. While some carriers are now offering fiber optic options, these often come at steep installation or construction costs. There are sometimes wireless options available, if latency is not a concern (for most business uses – this causes problems) and cellular options are almost always linked to a data cap with costly overages that are difficult for businesses to use.

If Net Neutrality passes and encourages more competition as hoped for by proponents, SMB and large enterprises alike should benefit from lower internet costs and more options for redundant connections. Organizations currently reliant on private connections such as T1 or DS3 could now have more internet options available to pursue Site-to-site VPN setups. Multiple broadband options would allow organizations to build redundancy into their VPNs using technology such as Ecessa WANWorx.

For more information about carrier options, or to inquire about a carrier review, please contact RSM’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

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