Why Technology Consultants Care About Net Neutrality and You Should Too


It Consulting Rochester NY


As a technology consultant, I think it’s important for business leaders to care about Net Neutrality. And here’s why:


“Whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.” ~ Sir Walter Raleigh.


Substitute the word “sea” for “internet” and I think the analogy holds together very well. I just read a Facebook remark that if you are not concerned about Net Neutrality you are not paying attention. I could not agree more, so I am writing this second missive (first one was published in Rochester Engineer Magazine) to warn you of the barbarians at your gate.


A Technology Consultant’s View on Net Neutrality

I worry that this concern has not received the extensive conversation it deserves. Let me share three quick examples out of dozens of what happened before Net Neutrality to give you the flavor of how ISPs use deregulation to further their agenda to the detriment of smaller entities and consumers.


Case 1: Prior to Net Neutrality, AT&T forced Apple to block the free Skype phone app on the iPhone to prevent iPhone users from using Skype which AT&T correctly viewed as a threat.


Case 2: A significant DSL provider transferred Google queries to its own search portal. The users used the Google search engine but were transferred unknowingly to the ISP’s search engine, directing those consumers to the priority ISP customers.


Case 3: A few years back one of the top five U.S. wireless carriers announced plans to block streaming video over its 4G network from all sources except YouTube. I doubt this would happen today to this extreme but the idea of carriers determining what is available to you on the internet and at what cost is exactly the issue at hand.


Who are the ISPs that benefit from deregulation?

The largest are Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner (Spectrum), CenturyLink, Charter, and Verizon. These are all great companies in many ways and have made enormous investments in the internet and it may be a cheap shot to talk to your cable or phone bill but I believe the trust issue is relevant to this discussion.


That being said, some of what I have to say is editorial in nature, and in the interest of disclosure my company owns a cloud communication product (eScreenz™) that might possibly be harmed by deregulation of Net Neutrality. eScreenz™ provides information to businesses including emergency messages that are by their nature, important. Today the application doesn’t require priority treatment – but if an ISP willfully slowed that data to prioritize other more profitable traffic, emergency messages might be delayed.


Let’s do a recap.

In the summer of 2014 the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) passed regulations that limited a set of injurious practices by the ISP industry. Perhaps the most significant regulation forbid ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as well as government entities from ‘bandwidth throttling.’ Bandwidth throttling is the practice of controlling the speed of internet data by slowing down selected internet traffic.

With the coming of the Trump administration, the head of the FCC was replaced by Ajit Pai, a known harsh critic of Net Neutrality who views Net Neutrality as anti-innovation/anti-competitive and is positioning its dissolution at the end of 2017 including the regulation concerning bandwidth throttling. He is meeting vocal and widespread disagreement from inside the industry and a general public who believe that Net Neutrality is, in fact, pro competition and pro innovation. Myself included.

Alongside consumer advocates and business people are enormous players such as Google and Facebook who have joined the fray as even the largest internet application providers understand that the internet world advocated by the FCC would not be decided by the consumer and the marketplace but by the large cable/tele/wireless providers and government.

Think About IT.

If you have any questions about technology consulting, net neutrality, or IT, contact us and we’d be happy to help.