Quick Primer on VoIP & the Net Neutrality Debate

Posted by Emmi Sauls on 08/12/17 10:15 AM
Emmi Sauls

If you've been following the net neutrality debate, you know that the FCC is currently moving to repeal the existing rules for internet delivery, also known as net neutrality. It is important that you know what this means for your business VoIP phone system- start thinking higher telecom expenses.


What is Net Neutrality?

Though there are many ways to define net neutrality, it comes down to the principle that all data on the Internet should be distributed, priced and treated the same. This neutrality ensures that no Internet Service Provider (ISP), or even government branch, can control the speed at which data travels or how specific content is delivered to consumers. This means no data throttling, or discrimination that favors one group over another- think Netflix streaming under a major ISP. During peak hours of online streaming, this ISP slows the connection to accommodate the increase in users. So is that why my movie started buffering? You got it! "ALL PACKETS SHOULD BE TREATED EQUALLY!"

How does this affect business?

Small businesses will have yet another disadvantage in competing with corporate giants. Why? ISPs will have the power to do anything they want with their offerings. This means that the pricing is solely at their discretion and companies can (and will) be charged above-average prices for less than sub-par services. Increased bandwidth will transfer to increased rates for service. Do you want a reliable and fast connection? Get out your checkbook and start lining up your zeros. Without regulations, speed essentially becomes money. If ISPs were allowed to charge content providers for high-speed, higher-priority Internet lanes, it's a fair bet that most content providers would pass the extra costs down to you.

Consider this: A
1 second delay in page load time can cause 7% drop in conversion rate, 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

How does this affect VoIP technology?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is delivered in data-packets that are transferred across the Internet at high speeds. Businesses rely on this high-speed Internet to get phone services from vendors. So what happens if this repeal goes through? ISPs will be able to charge VoIP vendors and/or businesses higher fees for accessing VoIP services. They can also slow down VoIP data over their networks, affecting voice quality on calls. When poor call quality stifles business continuity, the logical answer is to invest in a better connection, right? Well with no net neutrality, better Quality of Service (QoS) means allocating more money to telecom because of unregulated prices offered by the provider.

Let's talk real-world examples, shall we?

1. Say Goodbye to the Little Guys

Large corporations like Amazon, Verizon, and Google, will have the upper hand over smaller companies. Why? Since these organizations are powerhouses, they would be able to enter into an agreement, partnership, or contract with an ISP for premium speed. An agreement like this would allow users to access these platforms at their regular paid-for speeds. However, the smaller organizations who do not have the same pull or fiscal force simply cannot afford to negotiate or arrange the same deal. So essentially any user trying to access their website or get through to their help desk hotline, may experience slower connections, poor quality or no connection at all- crippling the corporate competition and monopolizing the respective industries.

2. Priority Access Will Cost You

With the current regulations in place, ISPs sell singular Internet packages. With the repeal, an ISP would be able to sell different internet packages, similar to cable TV packages. If your business allows for remote working options, video conferencing might be a top priority. Well, ISPs could offer a very specific "Video Conferencing Internet Package" for $X, on top of the regular internet package price. This would allow for a consistently clear connection with no interruption or delay. If you don't purchase this package, the ISP could throttle your data- ruining the experience and forcing you to purchase additional support.

Our Final Thought

For many VoIP providers, Net Neutrality means better service and lower costs for the end user. For businesses country-wide, Net Neutrality means level playing fields for competition and regulated fees from ISPs. For Internet users across the board, Net Neutrality ensures that all ISPs provide the same rate of speed, regardless of the content provider, for the same cost- treating all data equally.