What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the phrase used to describe the underlying philosophy that the Internet does not differentiate users based on size market capitalisation, location or any other determining factor.
On the internet all websites are created equal, well almost. Of course website owners that invest in a well designed and developed website with a focus on enhancing search engine optimisation (SEO) will have an advantage over a competitor that doesn't, the fact remains that the field on which they play is level.
Killing Net Neutrality
The move to "Kill Net Neutrality" refers to the shaping of website access speeds based on the subscription a website owner has with their ISP. This is not a good thing!
Allowing ISP's to control access speeds to websites based on commercial arrangements cuts to the foundations on which the internet was formed. The Internet has always been a semi level playing field, an environment where a small business can compete with a large corporate, This is especially true for the new business seeking to establish themselves on the internet.
In the United States a recent agreement made between Netflix and AT&T in which Netflix has agreed to pay a premium to ISP and broadband provider AT&T to ensure the smooth delivery of it's video content (movies and TV shows) can be seen as one of the first moves toward breaking down the notion of Net Neutrality.
Small Business Impact
For larger established players in the internet, paying a premium to ensure unfettered fast access to their website is probably going to be a manageable cost. The real loser if this is to happen will be the new entrant, the business seeking to establish an online brand, the boutique company that relies on a web presence to generate leads and sales rather than investment in a bricks and mortar store.
There are flow on effects, if the ability for a small business to establish themselves on the web is constrained, their ability and the likelihood that they will in the future hire employees also diminishes.
It doesn't matter what you are offering on the web, whether it is information, products, directories, images or video, speed matters. Since 2010 Google has been factoring website load speeds into its search index algorithm - it is important!
Be aware that the move to Kill Net Neutrality is gaining momentum, keep informed about developments and when you have the opportunity, lend your support to the movement to keep Net Neutrality a feature of the internet that remains for many years to come.
Remember the real losers if this happens will be the small websites and business's yet to establish an online presence, it could be you!
Tools to Assist
While most of us will struggle to make our opinions heard on the topic of Net neutrality, we can take steps to be informed when our environments change significantly. At Koda we use a very cool monitoring solution System Monita to monitor the health and performance of our website and server environments, alerting us to potential degradation in services that may be affecting the browsing experience of our visitors.