Blog Post

The Great Internet Slowdown & Net Neutrality

Net neutrality was recently back in the news. Chad and Adam did a Brown Bag about net neutrality earlier this year, but they wanted to cover recent news, comments, and findings about what’s next for net neutrality. In today’s Daily Brown Bag, we wanted to revisit what net neutrality is, the significance of September 10th (also known as: The Great Internet Slowdown Day) to raise awareness for the importance of net neutrality, and what’s next for net neutrality.

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Hello and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today, we're going to be talking about what's next for net neutrality. I'm Chad Hill, and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good afternoon, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. You know, back in May, we did a Brown Bag on the FCC's net neutrality ruling. For those who are new to this debate, the FCC had this proposal out in May and they were calling for equal treatment of all legal content traffic on the Internet. Just to bring people up to speed, the opposing view is that maybe there should be fast lanes for those who pay extra dollars, and those would be people obviously with pretty big budgets. So there's a pretty big debate going on here. The first round of public comment was available and open through July 18, Chad. So that's a little bit of old news. But the second public comment round about net neutrality is actually ending at midnight tonight on the 15th of September. So we're out encouraging everyone to have their voice be heard.

Over 10,000 sites, including some big ones, Chad, like Netflix and Etsy joined together on September 10, which is known as the great Internet Slowdown Day to raise awareness for the importance of net neutrality, particularly for small businesses and really to encourage everyone to comment about net neutrality and get their voices heard with the FCC. So far, the FCC is reporting that they have received over three million comments. The Washington Post is covering these comments about net neutrality, as well, and they believe that the Internet Slowdown Day PR stunt, which actually did not slow the Internet down, but was meant to raise awareness for net neutrality , really did render quite a lot of activity including 1.48 million comments. So Chad, what's the sentiment? What are some of the things people are saying are coming in through this extended second comment period for the FCC?

Yeah, well, the Sunlight Foundation actually has gone through and started to analyze these comments about net neutrality. They've tried to summarize them down into some bullets here, and I've got them here. Basically, about two-thirds of these net neutrality comments were opposed to paid priority, and that's the idea, Adam, that you mentioned of dividing traffic into different speeds. Another two-thirds, one of the ISPs reclassified as common carriers, and the reason that's important is because common carriers like telephone companies are then have a different set of regulations that I think many believe would also prevent this categorization of traffic. Then, a half focused on the idea of the economic impact on small business and innovation, the idea that if there weren't net neutrality that many people, many innovative companies wouldn't be able to pay to be able to have these explosive growth start-up social networks and various other things that have happened throughout our innovation and throughout the Internet, that those would get blocked. Over half mentioned Internet access as an essential freedom, and 40% mentioned the importance of consumer choice, and then a third mentioned the need for healthy competition among Internet providers.

So as you already said, Adam, the Internet slowdown was actually really not a slowdown. It was simply just people putting a little widget on their website that simulated what it might look like if one site was slower than another, so that people could click through and learn more about the Net Neutrality Act. So again, that again as you said sort of was a real boost to these comments took it from just over a million to three million. So interesting to see what happens. I think we have some other news here, Adam, that in terms of the next steps with it that net neutrality has.

Yeah, well, it is to me fascinating to watch this again. The second comment period recently closed, and I think right at the heart of this debate is just: Is the Internet available to everyone at equal speeds more like utility or a right, which I think is how a lot of people have assumed that it is. But the reality of it is a lot of it runs on private lines and carriers, and it gets really complicated. So I'm sure we'll continue to cover this. I think for our resellers and our main street clients, it is a fairly big issue because they're all very, very small businesses. I think getting your comments out there before the deadline tonight would be important.

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