Net Neutrality has been a concept that the vast majority of people and organizations want to maintain. In fact, it seems that the only companies who want to see it dismantled are the ISPs who would benefit from it. On July 12th, companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix will join what organizers claim was the biggest online protest in history against the potential removal of the net neutrality laws.
These laws essentially prohibit broadband providers (wired and wireless) from blocking or throttling legal Internet content and not allowing broadband providers to offer paid, prioritized fast-lane services to content companies. This is very different to offering variable speeds to for different price points, it is essentially giving priorities to different companies and individuals and reducing the speeds of others. This is clearly likely to have a huge impact on companies and individuals - slower internet connection is going to hamper innovation, give clear advantages to incumbents, and most importantly, severely impact how data is collected and analyzed by companies.
As we are moving towards a data ecosystem driven by real-time analysis, fast and reliable internet connections are essential to make it work. You can’t expect to have real-time data available if it takes a long time to analyze and even longer to collect. However, those who ISPs look favourably upon will be able to use this technology considerably more effectively, giving them a huge advantage over their potential competition. It also means that the prices that ISPs charge are essentially unlimited, as with what is already a poor choice of service providers unconstrained by competitors, there will be little option but to pay extortionate prices to try and gain parity.
It also has a potential impact on data security too, with slow internet speeds potentially making use of the cloud untenable, forcing companies with a large amount of data to hold it on-premises. IDG’s Enterprise Cloud Computing Survey, 2016 predicted that by 2018 only 40% of IT Departments would have their apps and platforms based in on-premise systems, meaning the majority would be based in the cloud. Without effective speeds to upload and download data from the cloud, companies will be forced to move back to on-premise systems, making them responsible for their own data security rather than having a unified data security. This has multiple issues, not least that it will increase the costs of data storage, but will also make data less safe.
One of the areas currently seeing huge growth within data analytics is big data as a service platforms, which essentially allow companies to access big data platforms from anywhere, offering data services, and even allowing them to access data from other companies. These are exclusively cloud based, so if these kinds of speed changes occur, it could significantly impact its future growth.
Net neutrality isn’t seen as the most exciting subject when it comes to political decisions, especially in what has quickly become the most drama-filled White House in history. However, the impact of it could have far reaching and damaging consequences.