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Net Neutrality: What Will It Mean to Web Designers, Marketers and SEO's?


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 10:39 PM

Admittedly, when the topic of Net Neutrality first showed up, I ignored it because it sounded too complicated and I didn't think it had much to do with me. I was wrong.

Too late, (though I still emailed my congressmen), I spent some time trying to learn more, and I still am. I'm trying to understand what is fair and what makes sense.

The gist is that in the USA, the phone and cable companies like ATT, Comcast and Verizon want to take over the Internet and essentially own it. But before they invest the billions it will take to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure (phone lines, cable), they want the US Gov't to promise that it will be worth their investment.

So they want to be paid back.

To do that, they need money from us. They need money from big Internet-based companies like Google, Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo! and others like them . Also, the not high profit, like Craigslist, to pay to be accessed by you and me. DSL and cable providers will charge us differently by offering tier services based on things like what websites we use the most and how we use the Internet.

For example, if you are heavy users of online games and social networking, you will pay more for the bandwidth than the senior citizen who only searches once in awhile and emails their family on occasion. Businesses and companies who access the Internet will pay more than consumers. I'm not sure what happens to free Wireless, but I've seen concerns brought up about it by cities that are thinking of offering it city-wide. Some say this is the end of the Internet as we know it, here in the USA.

Besides the tier-based payment, there is said to be (or a fear that) that the ISP's will decide what search engine you will get depending which one partners with them to have the fastest delivery speed. So for example, Verizon customers if partnered with Yahoo! will get that search engine as their default and it will also be the one that downloads faster. Should they prefer Google, they will have to wait longer.

I have read that content discrimination is not part of the Net Neutrality bill. However, it doesn't take much imagination to wonder what a religious-owned ISP will block from consumers if they want to. There are more and more TV cable channels that target specific markets and belief systems. ISP's could do exactly the same thing and only provide access to specific sites. For parents, this might be a good thing.

As I read the comments and articles, pro and con, I keep wondering what this means for web design and SEO? Search engines are getting better at delivering results based on where you live and who you are. How would these changes effect how you apply SEO techniques? What does this do to marketing efforts on behalf of web sites? If Google Adsense Ads no longer reach EVERYBODY, what happens then? How does this work on an Internet where the consumer web site viewing choices are based on how much they can afford or what their ISP will provide?

We've been used to designing, optimizing and marketing for an International, fairly wide cross section of people. We know many of our efforts don't get past Chinese censors. What will it be like if the "censors" are phone companies in the USA? If you incorporate video into sites, do consumers have to pay more to view the web site? What does this mean to sites built outside the USA, who are accessed by American users?

Here are some quotes to consider and links. What do you think about this?

Let's put this issue in a larger context: The Internet is on the verge of one of the most dramatic breakthroughs in its history. Pretty soon, more and more Internet users will be streaming data-rich video into their homes, using the Web for online games, practicing telemedicine and having voice conversations.

But standing in the way of these benefits is the need for substantial network upgrades. Face it, the current Internet is creaky and will quickly get congested without improvements.

The Internet providers need to recoup their investments and one way is to charge a premium for managing bandwidth content differently. The need for this is self-evident: Data from a video or phone conversation has to be prioritized differently than data from a standard Web site access.

- Mike McCurry

Here's a real world example that shows how this would work. Let's say you call Joe's Pizza and the first thing you hear is a message saying you'll be connected in a minute or two, but if you want, you can be connected to Pizza Hut right away. That's not fair, right? You called Joe's and want some Joe's pizza. Well, that's how some telecommunications executives want the Internet to operate, with some Web sites easier to access than others. For them, this would be a money-making regime.

Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist.org

The Day the Wild, Carefree and Sexy Internet Died

House rejects Net neutrality rules

"Net Neutrality" loses to telecom and cable lobbying

Slashdot- Net Neutrality Voted Down in U.S. House Committee

A Note to Google Users on Net Neutrality

The Struggle for Net Freedom

The Internet's Future Congress should stay out of cyberspace.

Not So Neutral

Edited by cre8pc, 14 June 2006 - 09:33 PM.


#2 A.N.Onym

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:33 AM

I think it can be solved much easier.
Just raise the price for the Internet, determined by the bandwidth, like it used to be decades ago.
Want 1mb a month? Pay $5 and be happy. Want 10gb traffic at T1? Pay more. But the freedom of choice would remain. Current proposal goes against the Constitution (freedom of access to information, freedom of speech).

I suspect the whole thing is about politicians and ISPs getting a cut at Google's and others' cash, that's all.
And of course, the customers, the heart and soul of the Internet, suffer instead.

Anyway, I'd probably try to market my product/service off the search engines.
Or if I did, I'd even out my efforts to market using every possible opportunity, so I'd still cover most, if not all, of my potential customers.

The fact that the Net would be devided by segments - tech savvy people would use one ISP, while housewives would use another - would make me market for one of the ISPs, depending on my product/service.

Designers and marketers will adapt more easily to this than the customers, who will have to try harder for that. In fact, I'd think of not using the Net again, if I can't find anything I want or I have to overpay for it. I'd still go to a library or to the shop myself.

#3 cre8pc

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 11:42 AM

What I find sad is that this is not considered "big news" here in the USA. I've yet to see it discussed or covered by TV news, or local newspapers. CNN on the web has a few bits, but I watch them often and haven't seen this covered or brought out front.

It's sad because nearly everybody uses the Internet, whether in a library, schools, home, work, etc. Cell phones and handheld devices connect to it.

So far, the Internet has been affordable, accessible and allowed freedom of choice in choosing where one can go on it.

How we access it, and the availability of it, has reached the first step in being changed forever. Regardless of any possible benefits in the long run, we all know, based on experience, that once the US Gov and big name corporations get their greedy hands on something the people want, our rights to use it are compromised.

My other concerns are for our industries (seo, design, hosting, blogs, marketing, etc.) I'm trying to look ahead, to what any changes in how web sites are delivered to consumers and businesses will effect how we do our work.

I'm not willing to sit quietly and let people decide my future, especially when it has to do with my work. And, I think all small businesses and startups have good reason to be very concerned, if they expect to be doing business online.

I also don't think we, the public, have enough objective information and therefore, it's too easy to either be scared or confused, or do nothing, until some solid "This is exactly what will happen" comes forth. All I've seen is guesswork, or one-sided non-objective objections, and I find that extremely frustrating.

#4 yannis

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 11:49 AM

Nobody owns the Internet. No government has sole power over the Net, as its components fall under numerous national and state jurisdictions that may set forth constraints on what can be communicated over it. Due to the way the Internet works, there exists no central technical control nor is there a need for it. Packets of information are able to find their own way from sender to recipient. Some say this is one of the secrets of the Net’s success. Consequently, the Internet does not need and does not have a central governing and coordinating core, except for three specific functions that have to do with addressing devices, mostly computers, connected to the Net.


From Jefferson Rebuffed - The United States and the Future of Internet Governance

The net neutrality issue although different from the recent debacle mentioned in the above quote touches a number of similar issues.

Firstly the claim that the ‘owners’ of the backbones do not get compensated is untrue as anyone that paid for a DSL or telephone connection knows. Not all ISPS own the cables and the fiber optics; I as well as Google have to pay for connecting to these backbones. I need one connection, they may need 100 000. We each contributed in our own way to the costs of the infrastructure. What the new legislation is doing is to regulate a different pricing structure where Companies such as A&T will be protected at the cost of the consumer. Rest assured if providing this service was not profitable they would have closed these divisions down.

Like anything else in business, yes you need to keep on investing in your infrastructure.

History always repeats itself. The Victorians understood the importance of low cost communication and especially in keeping in touch with the far flung parts of the various empires. It took about 50 years and the establishment of the Universal Postal Union to establish the ‘penny post’ whereby you could post a letter from Australia to the UK or from Liverpool to London with approximates the same or almost the same cost! This established a principle that costs cannot be allocated individually to all users in matters of communication. By adjusting the rate up or down slightly the world’s post offices provided excellent service and made a profit over many years. So did the telegraph! To an extend mobile phone companies are doing it now.

Skype and the other emerging VOIP companies are the new pioneers. Electrons don’t travel at the speed of mail-boats and this ideal now is easier to achieve than before.

The internet is perhaps the ONLY common thing that people from all nations share at this point in history.

The USA suffers both form ‘over governance’, arrogance in government and over regulation. Just a look at all the ridiculous - and there is no other way to describe these lawsuits- that daily take place due to over regulation. Kim you mentioned craigslist in your post as more or less a community service organization. Check this one out.


As for the internet designers, webmasters, developers and search engines they will beat the system once more!

Yannis

PS This is probably my longest post since I have been here. I think Bragadocchiosis is infectious! (Elizabeth please take note this one will have to compete with positrolling for Google SERPS!)

Edited by yannis, 11 June 2006 - 11:58 AM.


#5 dgeary9

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 01:45 PM

I think it is exactly what has happened to TV in this country, so I can't say I'm surprised. Equal access is a principle that gets amazingly little support here in the land of the free and the "you get what you pay for".

However, I also assume there will be ISPs who give us a decent access option that we pay for - a little like PBS ;)...

#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 07:52 PM

I bet this issue (Net Neutrality) isn't covered by the media is that a) it is less noticeable in such a huge amount of sites) B) the ISPs don't want it mentioned. Don't forget, media companies are using phones as well, and don't want to fight against phone companies to have issues in the future.

We'll see (well, Americans, at least) any publicity if any of the media moguls decides he wants net neutrality and will go against the majority. This, however, is highly doubtful, because even if the person in question needs net neutrality, I doubt he/she will go against the entire system and risk his job if his efforts fail.

The net neutrality issue is basically unnoticeable in the Internet, because major news sites aren't concerned with it as well. Also, not everyone reads news on the Internet and not everyone visits the forums. Let alone, not everyone searches for 'net neutrality' at all.

The reason the issue is raised, I suspect, is that because the Internet has become the power. Everyone can access it from anything that has eletricity attached to it, pay a small fee and access anything he wants. Anyone can put up his views to share with the public. Now remember that government doesn't like views which go against its own and limiting Internet access via ISPs is the way to control the power of the Internet.

To think about it, it can be not only the matter of money, which the ISPs and the politicians will get, but the power of controlling what people will get. That's what had happened to the mass media before and this is trying to be done on the Internet. If the Internet gets destroyed, people will find another medium to suit their needs for free speech and easy communication. Either they will build their own network or find a hole in the existing one.

Unfortunately, I find it too bad it isn't noticed by anyone outside the US. Not a single mention of it here in the mass media and I doubt anyone, who doesn't read any major English-language news, noticed the discussion. However, I suspect that everyone around the Globe will be affected by this governmental act and they should realize how it will affect them and act now. Basically, the Internet community could try get more publicity by contacting the major mass media outlets in their countries to let them know how things go. Maybe pressure from other governments will be able to stop or optimize the process.

The big guys of the Internet, who may pay a lot after this legislation comes into force, may spread publicity too. Did MSN put a huge banner, "Save the Net" or "Vote for the Net" on it's homepage?
Did Google create a new logo for saving the Net? Don't think so. However, such simple steps of good will might make immense impact on creating good publicity about the stuff.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 11 June 2006 - 07:55 PM.


#7 MaryKrysia

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 08:55 PM

The communication companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc. have become extremely aggressive over the past two decades. The Communication Marketplace is rampant with greed. I can't remember last time I contacted Customer Services at my telephone company when the CS rep on the line did not try and sell me on more or upgrade my service. When did Customer Service become blended with Sales? Why can't I just get customer service without being accosted with a sales pitch?

Personally, I was sickened at hearing about Net Neutrality and the communication companies looking for another source of money. The first time I heard of it was just a few days before the vote. The result of the voting was another example of big politics sleeping in bed with big business again.

For me, seeing the passing of the free Internet, possibly the last frontier of true free enterprise as well as free sharing of information would be very sad. As a a web designer and SEO, I am not sure what I would do in response. I know I would like to fight this change because I don't see it as a good one.

Why does almost everything in America have to have a price tag? Air for tires of your car? Paying highway toll fees every few miles to drive through your own State? Yes, I have strayed off-topic but to me this is part of the bigger picture: greed in America.

Mary

#8 kensplace

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 08:59 PM

The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer. Thats the way life is these days....

#9 bwelford

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 09:26 PM

It's really rather surprising that this whole attack against Net Neutrality is being pushed within the country whose government has supported the notion that ICANN should continue to be the universal arbiter on all Internet matters. Even the highest levels of government (Condoleeza Rice no less) has leaned on the Europeans to avoid creating another level of surveillance of the Internet.

It seems to me that if the USA wants to adopt internal mechanisms that negate the open nature of the Internet, then they should voluntarily give up the ICANN initiative. They should allow some other global entity, say the United Nations, to set up the Internet surveillance authority.

#10 AbleReach

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 02:31 AM

It's really rather surprising that this whole attack against Net Neutrality is being pushed within the country whose government has supported the notion that ICANN should continue to be the universal arbiter on all Internet matters.

Shades of the WTO - cultural imperialism meets "free" trade.

You know, throughout history the US has had a way of pulling socio-economic issues to a point. Just look at our civil war.

Justice and capitalism make strange bedfellows.

#11 Juliette

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 03:05 AM

I know this sounds selfish, but as a person outside the United States how will this affect us? I know it doesn't directly affect us, but it will still impose limits on what we can do on the Internet. Even if it is in an indirect manner.

#12 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 08:34 AM

I think it's worth pointing out that this situation is still far from over - although the net neutrality amendment has been struck down by the house, there are still several other bills (in both the House and the Senate) being considered at various levels. There is still time - not all of these other bills are necessarily acceptable as they stand, but in the months before any of them can become law there is room for changes. Write your congressional representatives! Everybody!

The whole net neutrality question is very confusing - I've read dozens of article on it, and I'm left nearly as confused as I was before I started. Everybody has their own idea of what the idea entails, what will happen if this bill (or another) fails to pass...

I know this sounds selfish, but as a person outside the United States how will this affect us? I know it doesn't directly affect us, but it will still impose limits on what we can do on the Internet. Even if it is in an indirect manner.


It will, in fact, directly affect you, as I understand it. What may happen (none of this is certain) is that a group of communications companies could take "ownership" of the internet infrastructure. These companies are international in scope, and internet resources are also international in scope. Part of what may happen is that the companies could create tiered-payment plans for content providers (Google, Amazon, etc.) as well as for users - and furthermore, they could create any division of content they chose.

Even though they may not be able to directly control your access to the 'net, they would be able to control many of the content providers you would like to access. For example, from South Africa, you may wish to access a website in the United States - but the ISP which provides internet access to the hosting company who owns that website's server only allows access from Western European and US IP addresses, so you're out of luck. The hosting service couldn't afford to pay the surcharge for any other economic regions, so that's the end of that. The same logic could be extended to any given service or website.

With the international nature of the internet, it's very unclear to me exactly how far this could extend - and I also wonder whether this economic model, of limited or tiered service can even be effectively applied to the internet. It seems like simply a way for communication companies to leverage more income from their property by discriminating against the poor or less successful.

#13 cre8pc

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 08:56 AM

It seems like simply a way for communication companies to leverage more income from their property by discriminating against the poor or less successful.


I feel the same way. I do remember, however, a man I met years ago on the Internet in a discussion group I belonged to. He made an immediate impression on the group with his ideas and opinions, and knowledge of many topics. He sometimes sounded like a professor. I got to emailing him on the side and discovered, after we had established trust between each other, that he was a homeless man who communicated to us by visiting libraries in the towns he wandered to. He would tell me stories of what it was like to find places to sleep but he had no qualms with the lifestyle (that he shared anyway.) He seemed to find peace knowing he could still contribute, via the Internet, and he appreciated the libaries that didn't shut him out.

From him, I learned that if someone wants something bad enough, they will get it. He wanted to share ideas and talk to people. In fact, he had taught himself HTML and had several websites devoted to his favorite topics. Yet he had no home, no job, no computer of his own...

I suppose that people who want the Internet bad enough will find ways to get to it, but my fear is that the way will be harder for those who can't afford it, or parts of it.

As to how these changes, if passed by the Senate and made into US law, will impact global usage, I've seen no solid information or thought on this by politicians. In my mind, I have many "what if's" but without trustworthy information, I don't feel confident in knowing for sure what these changes could mean, if they were to change anything at all.

I do think that we should, (here in the USA), email and write our state and local representatives and let them know we care about this. I also think they should hear from the International community because the Internet has united us all and perhaps these elected officials need to be reminded of this.

#14 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 09:57 AM

As to how these changes, if passed by the Senate and made into US law, will impact global usage, I've seen no solid information or thought on this by politicians. In my mind, I have many "what if's" but without trustworthy information, I don't feel confident in knowing for sure what these changes could mean, if they were to change anything at all.


And that's exactly the most difficult point - none of this is in any way definite. The law would merely prevent something from happening which has not yet happened - it is also possible that nothing would happen. What a net neutrality law would be intended to assure is that no company with the technological means to leverage control methods through an internet connection to prevent a user's access to resources would be allowed to do that. All resources would be equal in the eyes of your internet connection.

The global impact is impossible to measure, since it is conceivable that each company could implement their own goals and methods in independent ways.

The possibilities, without government control, are limited only by technology and by economics. Any method which is possible and which has viable profit potential is something which can be considered. And, something with no profit can still be considered since not all those in control will necessarily be exclusively motivated by profit margins - religious beliefs, political opinions, etc., can all play a role.

Honestly, I don't entirely know what to think - I don't believe that the failure of the Markey amendment to pass the House is anything to necessarily demonstrate the end of the internet as we know it. I'm not even convinced that the Markey bill would have accomplished what it intended to do.

What I was describing was possible global impacts - ideas of what these companies COULD, hypothetically, do. What they WILL do or WOULD do is inevitably completely different. The point is that there is a global reason to care about what happens, since the internet, as a globally available resource, could be greatly diminished by ANY restrictions which could prevent access on such a large-scale, anonymous basis.

#15 dgeary9

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 11:16 AM

From him, I learned that if someone wants something bad enough, they will get it. He wanted to share ideas and talk to people. In fact, he had taught himself HTML and had several websites devoted to his favorite topics. Yet he had no home, no job, no computer of his own...

I think the thing that frightens me about this is that it will change what the average user sees. Kind of like major network news - sure, there are alternatives out there, but the major news coverage shapes what the average American viewer thinks, believes, pays attention to. There will always be alternatives for those who search hard enough, but shaping the awareness of the majority is a huge power, and one I believe net non-neutrality will impact substantially.

P.S. For those who want to learn more or participate, this is the website of the coalition to "save the internet" (truly odd bedfellows!).

Edited by dgeary9, 12 June 2006 - 11:22 AM.


#16 jcbradley

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 10:15 AM

i agree, this is a complicated issue and it has some strange bedfellows on both sides of the issue, both left and right groups waying in on both sides. here's 2 articles against this..

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=243

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=242

Chris

Edited by jcbradley, 21 June 2006 - 10:16 AM.


#17 cre8pc

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 01:34 PM

Those are great links. Thank you!

I'm still following this, but it has certainly gotten VERY confusing as time goes on.

#18 behindTheScenes

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 06:18 PM

The sarcastic side of me says: -

"I think that this is a fantastic idea by the USA and I sincerely hope that it goes through!
It would be great for Europe and Asia to get all the USA's hosting business because datacenters will undoubtably move to cheaper hosting countries.
Good Job!"

We will have to wait and see.....

Edited by behindTheScenes, 21 June 2006 - 06:24 PM.




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