July 12, 2017 – The internet is the utility of the 21st century. It brings access to education, economic opportunities, and ultimately an improved quality of life. For more than twenty years the City of Seattle has sought to close the digital divide, making sure that all of our community members can realize the benefits from having access to the internet and the skills necessary to use it.
In recent years our efforts have received strong championship at the federal level. In 2015, the Federal Communications Communication (FCC) passed a rule guaranteeing “Net Neutrality” – meaning all consumers and entrepreneurs would have equal access to internet users. Today this rule, and the opportunity it brings to our community, are under fire.
The current presidential administration and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai threaten to repeal this basic, modern day necessity. Critics of net neutrality believe, among other things, it limits larger companies from expanding and developing new technologies. They think repeals can expand our economy and increase innovation, when in fact, it would do just the opposite.
Those destined to be hurt by possible repeals are the smaller businesses and startups that are vital to Seattle’s economy. Companies like Cleland Marketing know killing network neutrality guarantees will result in increased barriers to market entry.
Katherine Cleland, a small independent business owner who works with digital marketing clients addressed Senator Maria Cantwell and FCC Commission Mignon Clyburn at a recent Town Hall in Seattle Friday, July 7.
“Right now we are in a struggle amongst all of my clients to meet Google’s requirement for load speeds to be at the top of search engine rankings,” said Cleland. “They have made speed one of their top criteria for SEO optimization. When we buy shared server space rather than sole server space we have slower response times and that can drop us off search engines, which is inadvertent because of what we can spend on servers. If that happened at the ISP level, it would be devastating for businesses that needed or wanted to be at the first page of search engine rankings.”
You can read more about Cleland’s concerns in her personal essay on the City of Seattle’s Net Neutrality site.
She’s just one Seattleite speaking up against the possible net neutrality repeal. Mayor Ed Murray and I hope you will as well. Now, through August 16, 2017, the FCC it is taking comments on this important issue. Join the more than five million Americans who’ve signed the petition and let the FCC know that the internet should be free and open to all. It only takes a few minutes, but those few minutes are vital to keeping the flow of information moving freely, quickly, and most importantly, moving to all of us.
~Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller
To read more about the City’s efforts on the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality go to www.seattle.gov/netneutrality