Potential End to Net Neutrality and the Impact on Small Real Estate Businesses

In stunning real estate news: On Thursday, December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to end net neutrality. What could this mean for small and mom-and-pop brokerages?

Far-Reaching Implications
Purported as a return to free market principles, the decision led by U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to repeal net neutrality has many technologists and activists alarmed. Negating the ruling that defines broadband Internet as an essential utility and sending the two-year old ‘Open Internet Order’ up in smoke, it means that Internet service providers (ISPs) will no longer be prohibited from charging fees for access to certain websites, and blocking or slowing down others.

Internet Costs Expected to Reflect Cable ‘Bundling’ Setups
Just as cable providers charge extra for premium stations like Showtime and HBO, Internet users may find themselves shelling out for specialized website lineups, with ISPs charging more for sites in high-demand… Or smaller websites like mom-and-pop brokerages and independently owned news sources.

If consumers don’t want to pay for the privileges of higher speeds in these packages, Internet providers could slow down the loading of those sites outside of bundled packages under the new plan. According to real estate news, Portugal is currently using such a structure, and Internet users and small business owners are paying the price.

Consumers May Not Be the Only Ones Forking Out
In addition to consumers paying bundled and extra per-site fees, small business owners may have to open up their wallets as well, greasing the palms of the ISP industry for access. Brokers and real estate services may be forced to pay extra to reach audiences, as well as to provide their staff access to websites necessary to conduct their business.

There are many concerns surrounding any such legislation that may stack the deck against smaller companies in favor of big business – and potentially ‘paid prioritization’ arrangements between ISPs and corporate affiliates.

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