The fight over “net neutrality” has been raging for some time, as a small number of big businesses attempt to put the reins on the speeds at which consumers can surf. A number of major sites recently went through a “Go Slow” day that would highlight what the web would be like without every site using the same speeds. Experts say this event may have highlighted exactly why small businesses would probably be harmed by the erosion of net neutrality.
Sites that many small businesses may rely on every day, such as Etsy, Foursquare, WordPress, and more, recently decided to create the appearance of having to slow their speeds to show users just how badly net neutrality would end up affecting their daily browsing habits, according to a report from Daily Finance. Essentially, what this relates to is a recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission which found that internet service providers do not have to treat access to all types of web traffic equally, and could therefore throttle speeds to some sites or kinds of online content – or boost them for others – based on how much they pay.
The recent evidence that some ISPs were throttling Netflix streaming, because of the effect that massive amounts of use was having on their networks, led to the video service entering into agreements that would keep speeds as high as possible. Of course, companies that are Netflix’s size can afford to spend the extra money – and that will probably be passed on to consumers in the form of higher subscription costs in the future – but for small businesses, that likely won’t be an option.
How else can this impact small businesses?
Even beyond the obvious problems that might come from slower internet speeds affecting web traffic, there’s also the fact that Google has been factoring site speeds into its site rankings for years now, the report said. That means that companies that can’t afford to keep up with their larger competitors will likely find themselves buried several pages deep in search results.
For these reasons, it might also be wise for owners to set some money aside to improve their websites, as this is how consumers generally first learn of new, or even established local companies. Finding a little more room in the budget might require reducing costs elsewhere, such as for small business insurance policies. For instance, cutting costs for liability insurance could save thousands annually.