Access to the Internet as you know it could be changing and it could potentially impact how Internet services are priced by your Internet service provider (ISP).

On December 14, 2017, in a 3-2 vote, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturned Net Neutrality rules, which were enacted in 2015 and guarantee open access to the Internet across all providers and carriers. The FCC is in the process of enacting new standards and under the new rules it would not be mandatory for ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. This sets the potential for ISPs to commodify Internet access and charge more for a full spectrum of services and accessibility they are currently required to provide.

For example, an ISP could partner with one movie provider, such as Netflix, and charge customers a higher price for access to others, such as Amazon Prime.  Or worse, ISPs could completely block access to Amazon; or to any newspapers or broadcasts they choose.  The current Net Neutrality law preserves our right to freely communicate online.  Many consider blocking access to censorship.

As of January 9, 2018 five states have introduced bills to preserve net neutrality laws at the state level. At this point, it’s uncertain how many states ultimately will introduce bills in response to the new federal standards.

However, your business’ ability to have full access to Internet services could change.

Price freedoms could mean price increases.  Could you be charged more for access to your data server on the west coast than your server across town?  Yes.  Could you be charged more for daytime access than nighttime access to your data servers? Yes.

For now, you can review your current service contract to determine your current rate and for how long it will be locked in (it’s unlikely that ISPs will change rates for customers currently under contract). If your contract is set to expire in the next 6 months, you can call your current ISP and inquire about any changes to service and rates. This may also be an opportune time to start shopping around for other carriers in your area that could provide a comparable level of service at a more competitive price.

Although its uncertain how ISPs will ultimately respond to the changes in Net Neutrality rules, if you take the steps to review your contract and determine what services are essential to your business, you can find opportunities to mitigate the overall impact to your business.