Small Business Owners Weigh In On Net Neutrality Repeal
Months after the matter was originally voted on, today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would enact its roll back of net neutrality rules on June 11th. Passed in 2015, net neutrality guidelines were intended to prevent certain practices such as throttling and give all websites equal treatment. Like most things these days, the repeal of net neutrality has proven controversial. As a result, a recent study by Paychex sought to discover how small business owners perceived the new rules.
According to their report, 44% of small business owners surveyed said they thought the repeal of net neutrality rules would negatively affect their business. That response was matched by 44% who said they were unsure how the move would impact them. Meanwhile only 12% expected it would have a positive effect.
A large reason small business owners seem to be concerned about the repeal is that they fear it will mean less traffic to their business website. In fact 59% of respondents said as much in the Paychex survey, with another 25% saying they were unsure what the impacts on their traffic will be. Those concerned owners theorize that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be more likely to give preference to larger corporations at the expense of smaller competitors.
Based on the survey results, Paychex President Martin Mucci concludes that there is reason for small business owners to be concerned. “The repeal of net neutrality adds yet one more worry to business owners’ minds, and while they can personally commit to optimizing their websites, they may still fall short in competing with the high brand awareness of larger online businesses,” Mucci said. He added, “Regardless of how they feel about a repeal of net neutrality rules, business owners should brace for the potential impacts this policy change may have on their business’ online presence.”
Overall what’s interesting (or terrifying, depending on how you look at it) about the FCC’s net neutrality repeal is how many unknowns there are. This is partially because few of the practices the 2015 guidelines sought to curb were being used in practice, making it hard to know what may be ahead. Because of this, Paychex’s finding that 44% of small business owners aren’t sure what to think isn’t surprising. Moreover, with efforts in Congress to halt the overhaul, it’s not even 100% clear that June 11th will actually bring an end to net neutrality. With that, it may be some time before small business owners and the rest of us find out what the FCC’s new rules will actually mean.