The regulatory fight over net neutrality is not yet over.
Editor's note: This is part two of a two part series. Part one was entitled Net Neutrality: A Primer for Living with the Change. The opinions in this piece are solely those of the author.
The regulatory fight over net neutrality is not yet over, and despite whatever rulings are ultimately enacted, small business owners and IT executives should ensure that bandwidth providers contractually provide service level guarantees, monitor and track network performance for adherence, and assign substantive monetary penalties for attributable and verifiable failures.
Industry Stalwarts for Net Neutrality
Many of the largest purveyors of Internet content and backbone capability support net neutrality. In concept, those stated affirmations should lead us to believe that net neutrality is both essential and provides necessary protections for all those involved.
In practice, net neutrality did little more than provide lip service to the notion of a level playing field and many of those supporting net neutrality are major offenders.
Here’s a short list:
Uses its knowledge of and low-level access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to ensure its services are always delivered. Third-parties have a handbook to assist with service delivery improvements but lack often-essential, low-level access.
Apple’s entire business model is built on a closed, Apple-curated ecosystem. Products competitive to its own are locked out and the company will block access once its own products can deliver similar capabilities.
While Google frequently mentions its commitment to net neutrality policies, its search result algorithms will prioritize content it deems most relevant based on financial relationships or political bent.
Netflix moves its content close to its consumers and compensates ISPs to ensure delivery. In the wireless space, though not covered by net neutrality rules, the company will pay telecoms to compensate for data usage and deliver desired quality/performance.
AT&T’s offers significant price reductions for its DirecTV NOW online streaming live TV service to those customers that also purchase other AT&T services. DirecTV NOW does not count against users’ data limitations on AT&T’s wireless network.
Net neutrality should be a concern for all those invested in protecting unrestricted access to Internet services but today's ruckus is much ado about nothing.
In fact, much of the ongoing lectures and hysteria on the subject are akin to the boy who cried wolf. The substance of many arguments is driven by those with merely a passing understanding of the subject as they spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt with concerns that have been previously addressed with appropriate regulations and regulatory bodies.
Or it is driven by vendors (and their lobbyists) with an agenda.
Thus, much of the net neutrality support heard from the vendor community should be viewed critically – if not cynically – as these outpourings of support are a bit of a red herring.
Enterprises particularly concerned with whatever legislation is ultimately reached should work with vendors to contractually ensure, monitor, and enforce that service delivery performance aligns with corporate needs and network capabilities without throttling or prioritization.
The only entities that should be concerned are those planning on consuming very high level of streaming video. In all cases, small business owners and IT executives should already have SLAs in place that likely address these issues but are encouraged to update and renegotiate them as appropriate.
In part one we covered Net Neutrality: A Primer for Living with the Change
About the author
Mr. Braunstein serves as Chairman/CEO and Executive Director of Research at the Robert Frances Group (RFG). In addition to his corporate role, he helps his clients wrestle with a range of business, management, regulatory, and technology issues.
He has deep and broad experience in business strategy management, business process management, enterprise systems architecture, financing, mission-critical systems, project and portfolio management, procurement, risk management, sustainability, and vendor management. Cal also chaired a Business Operational Risk Council whose membership consisted of a number of top global financial institutions.