In December of 2017, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai voted to repeal rules for net neutrality. Because the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is required to approve the repeal, which they did last month, the rules have been scheduled for effective repeal on June 11, 2018.
The rules protecting net neutrality were put in place less than three years ago. They were intended to ensure that all data and all information providers were treated equally, making it illegal to allow paid priority traffic, or to throttle, block or otherwise impede data flow by internet service providers (ISPs).
FCC Chairman Pai has criticized net neutrality as needless and costly for ISPs. He asserts that the regulations limit the business models available to ISPs. Businesses in favor of repeal have claimed that the regulations impede the innovation of new internet technologies. They also say that by charging people or businesses that produce or consume more data, the revenue could be used to pay for the infrastructure that keeps the internet running.
There has been considerable concern about the impact that repealing net neutrality rules will have on consumers, small businesses and websites. A poll from the University of Maryland showed that 83% of voters were in favor of keeping net neutrality rules in place.
For consumers, there has been speculation that media services like YouTube and Netflix, who deliver their content by streaming it, may increase their prices if they are required to pay for “fast lanes” to deliver their content.
For businesses, there is concern that the repeal will result in an uneven playing field for small businesses that don’t have the financial capital or leverage to form deals with ISPs to prioritize or not throttle their content.
Another concern is the redirecting of traffic by the ISP. For instance, they may want some devices or sites (particularly their own) to have better performance than others.
For businesses, individual cloud services could be also be throttled or they could have difficulty with apps hosted in their own data centers, since those apps rely on the internet connection to function.
For large businesses, worth more than $1 billion in revenue, the repeal of net neutrality will likely have negligible impact since large businesses tend to have contracts or agreements in place with ISPs.
These agreements would negotiate any limiting or throttling by the ISP.
For large businesses that work with cloud providers, or a single cloud provider, dedicated lines are normally installed from the business to the cloud provider’s data center that would negate any issues.
Cloud computing, however, is used by large and small businesses alike and has allowed small businesses to compete with larger businesses.
Businesses earning less than $1 billion in revenue will face more challenges without net neutrality rules in place. Today, small businesses can use the cloud to expand or contract based on what’s needed at any given moment without investing in expensive infrastructure. With the repeal of net neutrality smaller businesses may not be able to match the expense that larger competitors can afford for unthrottled service.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the repeal of net neutrality and how it changes the internet landscape.
These changes will likely determine how or whether small businesses use the cloud for their computing needs.
Depending on the size of your business, you may see a greater impact.
If you’re concerned about the effects of the repeal of net neutrality on your business, talk to your ISP and cloud provider. You can ask about their policies or what their approach will be and whether they have a plan in place to address tiered internet service.
In the meantime, you may want to set up network monitoring to check for cloud performance issues or bandwidth throttling so you can address it expediently.