You’ve probably heard about the FCC’s recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules. Will this have an impact on your business as a real estate agent? Here’s what the experts have to say.
What Is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality dictates that internet service providers treat all content equally, without giving preferential treatment to specific digital content providers. This means that consumers are able to load every video, app, website and image file equally, regardless of where content is hosted or who is behind its development.
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission included net neutrality regulations in its Open Internet Order. In turn, ISPs were forbidden by law from blocking content or artificially altering download speeds for specific providers. Recently, however, FCC chairman Ajit Pai rolled back this order, effectively eliminating net neutrality, at least in its current form.
Now that net neutrality has been suspended, many industry experts fear that ISPs could legally censor content and charge more for access to specific sites. For instance, it would now be perfectly legal for Comcast or another ISP to slow down streaming content from a competitor, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Theoretically, ISPs could also offer preferential status to large corporations who could afford to pay more money than smaller businesses.
What the NAR Says
Recently, the National Association of Realtors joined countless other business leaders in decrying the FCC’s decision to eliminate net neutrality. According to the NAR, the repeal means that ISPs will, in fact, be able to restrict content based on pay-to-play policies that give priority to providers who are willing to spend more money to secure special privileges.
According to the NAR, this could make it more difficult for agents, indie brokers and other small real estate businesses to reach wider audiences online. Since larger enterprises can afford to pay special fees, the lack of net neutrality could create a competitive disadvantage for smaller businesses that can’t afford to pay extra to unblock or speed up content delivery.
Prior to the FCC’s recent decision, the NAR challenged proposals to repeal net neutrality, stating that a rollback could raise costs on real estate business owners who make heavy use of online platforms. Despite these and similar efforts from other major voices, the FCC went ahead with its decision to roll back net neutrality regulations.
What to Expect
While the FCC’s recent actions appear to have eliminated net neutrality in its current form, the issue hasn’t been resolved. Several entities have expressed their intent to file lawsuits aimed at challenging the decision-making process that led to the FCC’s vote. Likewise, several states have issued plans to invoke their own net neutrality regulations that will keep ISPs from throttling, blocking or discriminating against internet traffic within their borders.
With so much still up in the air, it’s not clear what to expect; however, it is clear that the National Association of Realtors views the FCC’s net neutrality rollback as a bad thing for agents.
2-10 HBW offers comprehensive Systems and Appliances Home Warranties to help protect your clients from unexpected repair and replacement costs. Contact us to learn more.