The FCC will vote on Net Neutrality Feb. 26. I'm the CEO of a company that works exclusively with small- and medium-sized businesses - helping them grow their customer-base using the Internet. Based on my experience with these businesses, I have no doubt that the FCC will do irreparable harm to our entire economy if they block Net Neutrality.
America has always been known for fostering the dreams of entrepreneurs and small businesses. Our nation is better because innovators like Walt Disney truly believe that the U.S. is a place where "if you can dream you can do it."
An open Internet, with equal access for all, levels the business playing field in countless ways - it helps businesses distribute products, transact sales, run back office applications in the cloud, and so much more. When it comes to my company's business, online marketing, neutrality prevents companies with deep pockets from gaining an advantage over SMBs. Essentially, the big guys can't jump to the front of the line or pay extra for more rapid delivery of their online marketing content and ads.
A fast, reliable, neutral Internet is essential to successful online marketing, and marketing is integral to building a business. How quickly a website loads, a search is completed, an ad is served or social media content is delivered, can make or break the quality of the customer's experience.
If SMBs are relegated to the slow-lane in a "pay-for-speed" Internet system, the experience they can offer potential and existing customers would be inferior to that offered by businesses in the "fast lane." While a few seconds of wait time may not sound like a lot, research shows that it does make a difference, and can impact a businesses' bottom line. Consider these statistics:
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load,
A one-second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in sales conversions, and
Viewers abandon a video online if it doesn't load within two seconds.
Local businesses are crucial in helping grow our overall economy by driving job growth, creativity and competition. I believe they deserve access to the same tools available to big brands, including the same digital marketing and advertising technologies, and the same Internet availability and speed.
I know I'm not alone in my opinions about Net Neutrality. Whether you agree or disagree, and if you want to participate in the discussion, you can do just that. Congress is in recess this week, so I would encourage you to reach out to your representatives while they're at home. Make your voice heard before the FCC votes next Thursday on Net Neutrality rules.
Net Neutrality levels the playing field by giving SMBs the Internet access they deserve, and that gives them the opportunity to dream, compete and succeed.