Why Net Neutrality is Critically Important for Digital Marketing

by Deepak Kanakaraju on December 29, 2014

Net Neutrality, a concept that has been highly debated in the US, has caught fire in India only recently. In plain English – Net Neutrality means that all internet data traffic is treated equally – just like electricity. We pay for electricity based on units consumed and we can use it for any device. Similarly Internet access should have a simple pricing structure – cost per unit of data (Kb, Mb, or Gb) and should be treated as a utility.

waiting

What if there is no law or regulation for Net Neutrality? Crazy things will start happening. Recently Airtel wanted to charge separately for free VOIP services.

It is as crazy as the electricity company saying that you have to pay extra for electricity if you use Sony TVs instead of Samsung TVs at home. In such an imaginary case, the electricity company can take bribe from Samsung for promoting them. Such things are not possible with electricity. But with Internet, such things are possible.

When certain services over the internet are charged higher and others are not, it disrupts balance in the internet ecosystem. For example, Airtel could start charging more for watching YouTube videos because people are watching more YouTube videos and using less of Airtel Dish TV. This is one way where balance is disrupted.

Another way how things get messy is that, the ISPs can charge the service provider to deliver access to its users. For example, Indian ISPs can ask Skype and other VOIP service providers to pay them a fee to reach the audience. It is similar to a private road company charging a shopping mall a fee if people want to use their roads to come to their mall.

Here’s a simple video which explains the importance of Net Neutrality:

Now you understand what Net Neutrality is, let us discuss how it affects digital marketing for the common man and business owner.

Digital marketing is so powerful because the Internet has removed the middle man.

Earlier, with traditional marketing medium, the evil media company was in the middle of the business owner and the customers.

Business owners had to pay the media companies an advertising fee to reach the audience. The medias – TV, Radio, Newspaper and Magazines had access to the audience and they guarded it well.

The Internet enabled the business owner to reach the customer directly for free using content marketing or at a very low cost using Search Engine Marketing.

net neutrality for marketing

Now the middle man wants to come back. This time it is not the media companies but the ISPs who control access to the audience. They are going to set the rules.

With such an ecosystem only the people who already have the money will be able to have the reach they want. A group of 3-4 people wanting to innovate from a small room in Bangalore cannot compete with the big giants. The playing field will not be level again.

Without innovation from small timers, there is no competition. Without competition, there is no innovation in big companies. In the end, we will end up paying more for mediocre products and services and disruptive innovation which has been improving our lives will come to a grinding halt.

Net Neutrality is not a simple thing. It is a serious issue. Fortunately for US, Barack Obama has given a very clear statement that their administration will protect Net Neutrality in the interest of its citizens. Here’s a video by Obama about Net Neutrality:

The FCC in the US is yet to pass a law to protect Net Neutrality.

India has a bad history of crony capitalism. My worst fear is that the government, instead of protecting its citizens will help the ISPs make more money. We citizens should not allow this.

What are you going to do to protect your Internet?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Aniruddha December 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

How can the user, i.e. people like me(average internet user) voice an opinion against this interference from the ISP’s. How does google fibre figure in this whole equation?(is it even remotely linked)

Besides thanks for clearing this up. Very well-written article.

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Deepak December 30, 2014 at 11:59 pm

The best way right now would be to spread awareness about this. Very few people know about Net Neutrality and we should actively share information. TRAI could impose restrictions in such a way that it favours telecom companies. Telcos could bribe TRAI officials. We cannot allow that. TRAI is here to protect the interest of consumers. TRAI chief commenting that Airtel cannot be faulted is such a shame already. He is obviously against the interest of the citizens. If telecom companies say that cheap internet is not viable, they can increase the data rates. But they shouldn’t tamper with net neutrality.

Google Fibre still looks like a dream in India because it will not be easy for them to reach the masses and government could make it difficult for them by increasing red tape.

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C.V. Subramaniam April 14, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Very well written in a simple and lucid manner which can be easily understood by the common man. Net Netrality should be protected.

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