What should startups do if Donald Trump tries to kill Net Neutrality?

Tech watchers and analysts are predicting that Net neutrality will be dead in 2017. Just this week, the popular Technology magazine, Wired published an article predicting “This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality

Over the past two years, the FCC has passed new regulations to protect net neutrality by banning so-called “slow lanes” on the internet, created new rules to protect internet subscriber privacy, and levied record fines against companies like AT&T and Comcast. But this more aggressive FCC has never sat well with Republican lawmakers.

Soon, these lawmakers may not only repeal the FCC’s recent decisions, but effectively neuter the agency as well. And even if the FCC does survive with its authority intact, experts warn, it could end up serving a darker purpose under President-elect Donald Trump.

Image credit: startupsfornetneutrality.eu

So, what exactly is Net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. – Wikipedia

Why is Net neutrality important?

Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. One can think of the internet as a freeway where all traffic is governed by similar rules and all vehicles get to travel at the speed at which they want and can.

A widely cited example of a violation of net neutrality principles was when the Internet service provider Comcast was secretly slowing (colloquially called “throttling”) uploads from peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) applications using forged packets.

The Article “Comcast blocks some Internet traffic  gives an example:

If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music, software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate tool for quickly disseminating legal content.

What does it mean to Startups ?

Smaller companies and startups have a valid reason to be worried. If not protected by Net neutrality rules, they won’t be able to compete with giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, who have deep pockets and can therefore pay to have their data prioritized.

Many digital startups survive and thrive because of pervasive access to the Internet, and because their services can be accessed on the web.  The absence of net neutrality regulations will create a few challenges for startups:

  • Websites that are for “free” will continue to get visitors. However, if their cost of serving visitors – data and internet charges – were higher, will they be able to charge their advertisers a premium?
  • Startups struggle for resources. Their revenue model can get skewed if they must pay a premium to access and serve users on the internet

Bottomline: if the Trump Administration begins to act on propsal to  “kill” Net Neutrality, entrepreneurs  and startups should prepare to have their voice heard

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| Reproduction with permission only | Compiled and Edited by: Mohan K   |

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