One Ten Explains: Net neutrality

Over the past few years one of the hottest issues in the tech world has been something called net neutrality. It’s a terribly nonspecific term for an issue that is crucial to the Internet as we know it: ensuring access to sites, apps, and services isn’t degraded or eliminated based on your service provider or plan.

(I want to make it clear up front that I don’t really want Bits to enter the arena of politics too often. But there’s a lot of confusion about what net neutrality is, and it hits pretty close to what One Ten provides as services for businesses.)

With that, let’s get into it.

Ensuring a free and open Internet

Whenever you read something from a supporter of net neutrality, you’ll probably see one phrase repeated a lot: “free and open Internet”. It’s not a bad way to describe what the goal of net neutrality is.

Net neutrality is easiest to explain by example. Imagine a popular site for watching videos online called Examplecom. Examplecom makes a deal with the largest mobile carrier to say that it should load faster than any other video hosting site.

A couple of months later, a new video startup called Newbi launches with a better design and more features than Examplecom. But when anyone on the largest mobile carrier tries to visit on Newbi, all videos take 10 seconds to load thanks to the deal made with Examplecom.

Or to take it a step further, imagine if customers of that largest mobile carrier needed to pay an extra $10/month to visit sites like Newbi. Or imagine if they were blocked from visiting them at all. Or what if Examplecom and Newbi were news sites with vastly different perspectives on issues?

We’re fortunate to have an Internet where all sites are treated equally and there’s no preferential treatment for particular sites. The goal of net neutrality is to ensure that no matter how you access the Internet, you’ll be able to see all sites and that they’re all on a level playing field.

Many tech companies agree that net neutrality is essential in order to preserve some of the most fundamental concepts of the web: freedom of access to information; the ability of new ideas, sites, and apps to form and innovate without being pushed out of the market; and fair treatment of all people who access the web.

Criticisms of net neutrality

Support for net neutrality isn’t unanimous, and criticism often falls in line with other regulatory issues. Net neutrality requires some level of government oversight and control; at the minimum this opens up companies to increased scrutiny, and at its most extreme it could require the government to monitor Internet traffic to ensure fairness. Since many advocates of net neutrality also don’t favor government monitoring of Internet use, many proponents support a lighter touch for regulation.

Net neutrality and Title II

A lot of the criticism in the net neutrality debate has actually been around a related decision, not net neutrality itself. In 2015 the FCC classified Internet service providers as common telecommunication carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. That’s a really technical way of saying that Internet providers are now regulated in the same manner as phone companies.

The decision raised concerns among ISPs, which were concerned that the new classification could limit investment in new infrastructure and stifle innovation among providers. (And they were concerned they could lose money.) The FCC used the reclassification as a way to ensure net neutrality without having to pass legislation in Congress, but net neutrality can exist whether ISPs are classified as common carriers or not.

Net neutrality is a complex issue about an essential part of the Internet. For more information, visit the following links:

One Ten Explains: Reach

This is the first post in the One Ten Explains series, which aims to make the terms used in the tech world a little less confusing for those who don’t have a background in digital (or those who just want a refresher).

Reach is one of the most common terms you’ll see when looking at advertising and marketing campaigns. It’s also used in digital analytics (the statistics of who visited or used your site, mobile app, or social media presence).

Reach tells you how many people were able to see your campaign or page. Its meaning is a little different depending on what kind of campaign you’re doing. For example:

  • Email marketing: generally the number of people who received the email
  • Search engine marketing: the number of times your ad appeared when people searched
  • Social media marketing: the number of times your ad or post appeared in a person’s feed
  • Organic (non-paid) search: the number of times your page appeared in search results

Reach is only one piece of the marketing puzzle, and it doesn’t tell the whole story. Just because your ad or page appeared in front of someone doesn’t mean that the person interacted with it (the term for that is clicks or engagement) or even saw it. If someone breezed by your social ad without looking at it on Facebook, it’s generally still counted in reach.

Like a lot of other factors in digital marketing, reach sometimes has two categories: organic and paid. Organic reach is the number of people who saw your ad or page without any paid promotion, like a normal post on Facebook or how web pages appear on their own in search results. Paid reach can be a great way to make your ad or page appear in front of more people. As the name implies, though, there’s a cost.

Digital marketing can be a really effective method of reaching more people, whether they’re around the corner or across the globe. Reach is one way to tell how far your ad or page has spread.

Check back soon for an upcoming post with easy ideas to increase your reach!

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