Leading Internet solutions provider Aplus.Net today announced its support of “net neutrality” provisions to current U.S. legislation regulating telecommunications.
If enacted, these net neutrality guidelines would apply “common carrier rules” to Internet service providers (ISPs), requiring that all Internet traffic be managed on equal terms and helping ensure that all web content remains equally accessible to all users. If current legislation reconfiguring the Internet is passed without net neutrality provisions, ISPs will have the ability to give priority or preference to certain websites. In other words, if Company A pays more money than Company B, then Company A’s information will be delivered to your browser much faster than Company B’s.
If larger, more established companies are able to pay for better exposure, then the traditional equal footing that has rewarded true entrepreneurship by allowing new companies to thrive on the Internet will be lost. Many of today’s most successful Internet companies (Amazon.com, eBay) began as small independent start-ups that thrived because of the Internet’s inherent freedom. Without that freedom, America’s small businesses will suffer.
With more than 75 percent of its customer base consisting of companies with fewer then five employees, Aplus.Net certainly has a stake in the future of America’s small businesses. Itself the product of a successful small business start-up, Aplus.Net is concerned that failure to adopt net neutrality provisions would badly hurt the ability of America’s entrepreneurs to grow through the Internet, and therefore damage the U.S. economy as a whole.
“Small business drives the U.S. economy by providing jobs for over half of the private workforce,” states the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). “Data and research shows that small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, they create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs … In 2004, there were an estimated 23,974,500 businesses in the U.S. Of the 5,683,700 firms with employees, 5,666,600 were small firms (fewer than 500 employees) … American entrepreneurs are creative and productive, and these numbers prove it.”1
“Aplus.Net has taken this position to defend small business interests on the Internet,” says Theo Ivanov, Marketing Director for Aplus.Net. “We don’t believe ISPs should be able to play favorites with the content they carry. Likewise, consumers shouldn’t have certain content forced on them, while other content is withheld. It creates an unfair playing field, and that’s bad economic policy. Some who oppose net neutrality argue that it’s unwelcome government regulation. We believe that this is one situation where regulation is not only desirable—it’s necessary.”
1 - Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories, 2005 Edition. August 4, 2005.