The way the system has worked is we connect to the internet through a internet service provider (ISP) who gives us the information we want without allowing preferential treatment to some websites. Massive companies like ESPN or Netflix, are treated with equal internet speeds as your small business. However, there have been recent developments in the legal field in a lawsuit between the FCC and Verizon in regards to allowing preferential treatment over neutrality.
The suit began when Verizon initiated a plan to sell tiered internet packages to their customers. The FCC wanted to block these tiered packages on a the theory of net neutrality, but the court denied the block. The court found that the FCC was attempting to impose common carrier utility regulations on a broadband service provider that is not officially classified under utilities. The hope is that the FCC can push net neutrality on a regulatory side.
Without neutrality, any ISP can slow down a certain company’s speed down and charge a premium for access to faster speeds. These large companies like ESPN or Netflix can afford to pay these premiums, but your small business could have trouble with these added costs. This would give the massive corporations a huge advantage over the little guy. The best way to compare this new tiered internet service is to look at your current cable or satellite tv service. The more you pay, the more channels you have access to. ISP companies want this system implemented with websites. So, if you want access to Facebook, Netflix, ESPN, Hulu, you will have to buy the “entertainment package.” If your website is not grouped in with some of these packages, then you will be very limited to the amount of consumers that can view your site.
In the end, net neutrality is something that is a great resource for innovation on the web, because then every company has equal access and levels the playing field