Net Neutrality

Photo by Martin McCarthy/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Martin McCarthy/iStock / Getty Images

Recently, the President provided his input and support on the FCC treating the internet and internet providers in a different way. Re-classifying them as utilities would provide a way to force internet providers to provide equality across the board to all traffic.

Here's why this could matter to you as a tech company...and why you need to get behind this, regardless of your politics.

Net Neutrality Defined

Let's keep this simple, since a google search can give you all the information you want on this topic (or just go to the oatmeal for a quick and funny explanation). Net neutrality is essentially this - all data traffic is considered equal and cannot be regulated based upon where it originates. Doing this stops ISP's from, for example, slowing down your netflix stream to unusable unless Netflix pays the internet provider extra money. That's one example, but it could really apply to any data from any source. It can also be used for the benefit of the consumer, where T-Mobile made streaming music from certain sources not count against data plan limits for customers.

Tech Startups Take Notice

Your app that you're creating may seem innocuous right now. Why would Comcast or Verizon want to slow you down and make your customers' experience terrible, right? Aside from the moral implications of doing something like that, how about we look at it a little differently.

You started your company and built your app to be successful right? Sure, you may want to change the world and, yes, you might want to make lives easier and better. But you organized your company and spent your nights coding after work because you want to earn an income from it. To do that you need you app to be successful and widely used. You want your app to become the next Snapchat, or Facebook, or Google. The problem is that once you get that big, you get an equally big target on your back.

ISP companies are also cable television companies. They also own stake in various channels and media companies. They make Netflix pay a premium for content delivery to customers because every person who streams Netflix is a person who isn't buying on demand movies or watching television channels...which measure success with ratings....which lead to more money from advertisers who want to put ads on highly watched shows and channels. Netflix is cutting into their bottom line. What happens when you create the next huge social networking platform? Then, Time Warner buys a competing social networking company and blocks access to yours over its network...unles you pay them $50M a year, of course. If 30% of your traffic comes from Time Warner, what are you going to do?

Take a Stand Now

My most basic point is this: Take a stand now! Take a stand in favor of net neutrality now, before companies are allowed to extort money from content providers and customers. When you become the next Netflix and the ISP trolls come to collect their pound of flesh from you, that will be the moment you wished you took a stand when changes could have been made.