Remember last week when we discussed how the FCC was expected to finally vote on Net Neutrality? Well, the FCC did vote, and on February 26 it was decided: going forward, the Internet will be treated as a telecommunications system – a utility, subject to government oversight and regulation to ensure everyone has equal access to the web.
This means that there will be no ‘fast lane’ on the Internet – bandwidth can’t be specifically allocated to serve the needs of the heaviest users first, eliminating the idea of paid prioritization; all information must travel at the same speed – and Internet Providers won’t be able to block any legal information.
Opponents of Net Neutrality say these regulations will stifle innovation; on the other hand, a relatively stable internet that delivers the same reliable experience to every business owner, whether they’re Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com or Amy from Amy’s Amazing Little Bookshop, sounds like pretty good news for the little guy.
The next step in the process occurs on March 17th, when the House Judiciary Committee, which isn’t exactly thrilled with the FCC’s decision, holds a hearing to discuss the impact of Net Neutrality. Subsequent to that, the Committee intends to pass a Congressional Review Act that would nullify all of Net Neutrality’s provisions. Whether that bill would pass or not, we do not know. The current prevailing opinion is that the Republicans don’t have the votes to push it through; we will keep you posted.
What this means for the small business owner at this time is: expect your Internet experience to remain fairly stable right now. While the situation is so up in the air, internet providers are not likely to try to make any major changes to the way they serve their customers. Of course we will be keeping an eye on this issue to see what happens next.