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Should Net Neutrality be a worry for the web design and digital marketing industry?
9th November 2017

Firstly let's address what is net neutrality. Wikipedia defines net neutrality thus:

"Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating most of the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication"

This in a nut shell is the debate on whether gigantic companies should get more of the resources than a smaller startup or a small busines. The support for net neutrality is overwhelming among the masses who are afraid that big business will get undue advantages and the level playing field of the internet will be skewed forever.

Does Net Neutrality affect the web design and digital marketing industry?

It's an unequivocal Yes. The web design and digital marketing industry is definitely going to be affected and strongly at that. Most of the clients in the industry are small to medium businesses.

Currently we take for granted that:

  • We will get speed and connectivity according to the web servers/cloud solution that we invest in and not according to the size of our client's business or their number of subscribers.
  • That search engines will treat all businesses equally i.e. Small players can compete for the same products or services as a giant provided they market them aggressively.
  • That our client sites will not be denied access or be given limited access to any part of the world. That each and every person on the net would be able to access our sites provided they have the correct URL. (of course, the exception being totalitarian regimes such as China, which is censorship, another issue altogether)
  • That government and other agencies will not get involved in regulation of internet traffic and that there will be minimum red tape and bureaucracy.
  • That a free, fair and independent agency will continue to create the protocols and rules that guide the growth and development of the world wide web.

All these assumptions will be under attack and our ability to service clients will be seriously hit if Net Neutrality is not maintained.

We promise our clients results based on the above assumptions. We promise that with a certain effort and cost we can provide them solutions to their business needs. We do so, confidently, as it's a level playing field out there.

But if net neutrality is not upheld the consequences would be dire

  • We would not be able to give our services at a reasonable cost as geographies and bureaucracies would dictate the costs. Our cost structures would become complex and our proposals will become cumbersome.
  • We would not be able to maintain the efficacy of our marketing campaigns due to restricted access to markets and consumers. Some ad campaigns would become prohibitively expensive.
  • We would lose the advantages of our knowledge and experience as the gains from efficiency on our end would be offset by resource restrictions on the other end. Creating a cool, fast and reliable website would not have the same advantage as it does today.

Overall Net Neutrality benefits web design and digital marketing businesses and we need to fight for it.

As large companies become even larger and grab larger pies of the market there is a danger of losing our freedom and our enterprise. Ironically the giants who are fighting against net neutrality are the ones who benefited from them the most and are what they are today due to it.

It is natural for a corporate giant to want more, to dominate, to hog the resources and to ensure an uneven playing field. We have to fight from our side to make sure these tendencies do not overwhelm us and we lose our freedoms on the internet.

We need to fight for the small customer who comes to us looking for a fair fight on the global stage. We owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves.

What Can we Do about Net Neutrality in India

Net Neutrality in India is essentially policed by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) and for now they are in favour of maintaining net neutrality and keeping telecom companies and internet biggies in check. Refer the article below
http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/TRAI-rules-in-favour-of-Net-neutrality/article14068029.ece

As solutions and service providers, web design and digital marketing agencies are on the frontlines of the net neutrality debate and will be most affected. We have to stay vigilant and participate actively in any campaign in favour of net neutrality. We also must fight for our small and medium clients who would be most affected by any changes in net neutrality in India.

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