That’s the concern expressed by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy in a letter it sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in July. Now that the federal government has asserted its right to regulate the Internet (in February the FCC issued “net neutrality” rules to treat broadband as a utility), the Office of Advocacy wants to protect small businesses and advises the FCC to take them into account when crafting regulations.
Here’s the problem identified by the Office of Advocacy:
AT&T, Verizon, and others (technically called competitive local exchange carriers, or CLECs) provide service to an estimated one third of all small business owners. These carriers are planning to upgrade their technology (e.g., retire copper landlines) and the Office of Advocacy fears that this will translate into higher costs for small businesses. The letter urges the FCC to take this concern into account.
A court challenge to FCC regulation of the Internet had hoped to block implementation of the rules. The challenge failed in June when a U.S. District Court in D.C. refused to block the rules, opening the way for the FCC to proceed.
Many small business advocacy groups, including the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, had opposed the net neutrality rules (which the FCC refers to as the Open Internet rules), believing that the marketplace has so far done a good job regulating things, keeping prices down, and ensuring continued innovation.
Now that the federal government has taken control in this area (at least for now), it’s important that the interests of small businesses are protected. Let’s see what happens.