Repeal Of Net Neutrality Rules Rankles Business Community

By Liora Engel-Smith
The Keene Sentinel, N.H.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Several small business owners in New Hampshire have raised their concerns that the new net neutrality rules could create an internet environment where content from bigger companies drowns out smaller businesses.

The Keene Sentinel, N.H.

From slow-to-load websites to so-called Internet “fast lanes” that could exclude small businesses entirely, the Federal Communications Commission’s recent vote to repeal net neutrality regulations will hurt small IT businesses in the Monadnock Region, local tech entrepreneurs said Friday.

In a roundtable discussion with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in Keene, a handful of small business owners talked about the challenges they might face.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to repeal a set of Obama-era rules that required broadband providers to offer equal access to everything online without slowing down certain sites or charging consumers more for loading these sites faster.

Though the rules won’t take effect right away, in the long run, the new regulations could change the way consumers access the Internet. According to The New York Times, the new rules will take weeks to implement.

Local business owners told Shaheen that the new rules could also create an Internet environment where content from bigger companies drowns that of smaller businesses.

Shaheen, who sits on the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said feedback from Friday’s discussion could help inform future action on the issue.

“I think what this means is that it’s going to be harder for small businesses to compete with big corporations as so much of the policy in the last year has done,” she said.

A double-edged sword?
For Brian Foucher, president of small broadband provider WiValley in Keene, the new regulations could be both boon and bane. On the one hand, he said, WiValley could commit to being an open-access provider, meaning it would not charge different rates for different content. This strategy could differentiate the company from others in the region, potentially attracting more customers.

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