3 Ways to Protect Your Business in the War on Net Neutrality


While the debate over net neutrality remains centered around what it means for consumers and ISPs, there’s an even bigger threat brewing that could impact every business and innovation in the U.S.—and even whittle away at our already fragile economy.

As content providers and ISPs lobby to protect their sweetheart deals that create Internet “fast lanes” for their traffic, this puts every other business that relies on bandwidth (i.e., EVERY business) at risk of getting sideswiped into the slow lane. Because Internet service has become such a critical business utility—just like electricity and water service—without some Open Internet protection, virtually every business in America could suffer as these “fast lanes” chip away at the level playing field we’ve all come to depend on.

The reality is, there’s only so much bandwidth available. What happens when the top-tier traffic generators buy it all up? From small to mid-size and large corporations, schools, government offices and more—those that cannot afford to buy their way into the fast lane could see their traffic get slowed down in the jam up created when thousands of businesses are forced to compete for an even smaller proportion of bandwidth.

This Internet traffic jam could have a huge impact on sales, customer service, data transmission, email, online web meetings and more. Beyond just Web browsing and email, a growing number of companies are relying on cloud-based communication platforms for their phone systems, providing a vital link for customer communication. In fact, Internet-based voice traffic volume alone is expected to hit nearly 160 petabytes by 2016.

If all of that Voice traffic were to hit a sudden speed bump and come to a crawl, so too would the businesses that depend on it. On a national scale, millions of businesses could be facing an assault on multiple fronts—access to their website or online store, email AND their phone service could be under attack.

Yet, despite the risk, public support of net neutrality has slowed significantly, indicating that most of us do not fully understand the value of net neutrality or have lost interest. This is very dangerous for business and our overall economy—ignoring the issue or cowering quietly on the sidelines as “Davids” in fear of the towering “Goliaths” is the equivalent of raising the white flag in surrender. As the FCC tries to gain control of the issue, businesses of all types, verticals and sizes must step up to the plate and collectively defend their right to an Open Internet. Here’s how:

  1. Be vocal. Engage in the issue from a business perspective. Contact your congressmen, senators and the FCC, and work with industry organizations to raise awareness of the risk a pay-for-play model poses to businesses of all kinds, and even to the overall economy.
  2. Negotiate for Net Neutrality with your ISP. Insist on having Net Neutrality addendums added to your ISP contract to ensure a level playing field. This contractually prohibits your service provider from selling your share of bandwidth to the highest bidder.
  3. Push for full disclosure. Lobbying for transparency is critical to maintaining a level playing field. Work with your local regulatory community, public service commission or the state attorney general to require ISPs to reveal priority arrangements. Just the threat of having to admit they’re making these sweet heart deals could be enough to discourage ISPs from doing so, out of fear of public outcry.

As business owners, managers and invested employees, we must support reasonable protections for Net Neutrality—our livelihood and continued economic survival could depend on it. As just a single individual or business, fighting against these “Goliaths” might seem overwhelming or impossible.

But, what if the 245 million “Davids” who use the Internet every day banned together? Ironically, protecting your business in the Net Neutrality war is as simple as sending an email.

Curtis Peterson has more than 20 years' experience managing information technology and carrier-scale data and packet voice communication networks. At companies ranging in size from start-ups to Fortune 500 firms, Curtis has managed teams responsible for engineering, project management, operations, data security, network security, data center, Carrier Operations, and internet backbone design and operation. Peterson has built world-class teams that can develop highly scalable networks while directing systems with ever-increasing compliance and security requirements in heavily regulated industries.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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