Will Removal of Net Neutrality Affect your Business?

At the end of 2017, the FCC passed a proposal to alter net neutrality regulations. This not only affects regular citizens that use the internet on a daily basis, it affects businesses that rely on internet usage to make money, such as VoIP providers. The level to which these changes will alter your business practices and, ultimately, your bottom line, are unknown, but here are a few things we do know.

Basics of Net Neutrality
Net neutrality is a principle for which governments require internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet data equally. They should not charge different amounts based on content, application, website, platform or user. In addition, they should not intentionally slow down or block specific content, or offer free services to specific websites. In other words, all websites and users should be given equal treatment.

Predictions for VoIP Providers
One possibility is that business VoIP providers will deliver their data by piggybacking off existing ISPs. Companies that provide internet and VoIP service may choose to slow down competing VoIP providers in order to favor their own. This could have a serious effect on some of the most popular VoIP providers.

Effect on Startups
Without net neutrality, larger corporations could use their power and influence to slow down or block IP traffic from small companies, start-ups, and even competitors. Small businesses that don’t wield such power will have a harder time getting new customers, reducing potential profits. This could also limit a new business’ ability to find customers in new markets.

Unified Communications Community
For businesses that provide unified communications services that use one large data center with a single backup, a few changes are likely to occur. These include a decrease in connectivity and lower voice quality.

Lack of Net Neutrality in Other Countries
The removal of net neutrality has already happened in other countries, such as Brazil, so we can look to them for possible outcomes. In this instance, a specific ISP blocked all traffic going to Jive, forcing them to find a different route around the block. Fortunately, the ISP was small, allowing for a remedy, but this may not be the case if the ISP is a large entity.

In other countries within the European Union, applications are in place that help individuals decide which sites receive preference, but this is decided by merit, not by the desires of the ISP. This method seems more fair and democratic, not based on the desires of a corporation. But either way, the removal of net neutrality inevitably creates inequalities for businesses and customers.