Net Neutrality in Jeopardy: What It Means For You

While the news cycle of the past two weeks has been preoccupied with a series of sweeping executive orders from the desk of newly-inaugurated President Trump, other changes have been quietly taking place that could have profound implications for the Internet—most notably, how much you pay for it.

Ajit Pai is the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer whom Trump tapped to be the new FCC chairman, is an outspoken opponent of the “net neutrality” rules put in place under the Obama administration. The New York Times reports that he has already begun putting through a number of measures designed to undermine and roll back consumer protection policies.

While most of us are not yet feeling the effects yet, net neutrality is widely expected to be a target in the days ahead.

What is net neutrality?

Essentially, net neutrality is a policy that classifies the Internet as a telecommunications utility that must treat all users the same. This principle, encapsulated in the Open Internet Order of 2015, says that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot prioritize data or speeds according to any extenuating criteria. To put it simply, ISPs can’t charge you based on how fast or slow your Internet content loads, no matter where it’s coming from.

Without net neutrality, your ISP would have the ability to prioritize content from its preferred partners while throttling content from their competitors. For example, if your ISP had an agreement with Hulu and not with Netflix, it could theoretically restrict data coming from Netflix servers to the point that your content takes forever to load or doesn’t stream at all.

The problem with zero rating

Of particular concern to net neutrality advocates is the emergence of “zero rating” services, which some major telecommunications companies have already begun marketing. Within the zero rating framework, companies pay carriers for “sponsored data” status so customers can stream unlimited videos without it counting against their data caps. One of the most troubling examples of this involves AT&T and its subsidiary, DirecTV Now.

As Jon Brodkin explains in Ars Technica, “with Sponsored Data, AT&T charges other companies for the right to bypass customers’ data caps on AT&T’s wireless network. At the [same time], AT&T lets its subsidiary DirecTV stream on the mobile network without counting against data caps. DirecTV technically pays AT&T for the privilege, but the money is just shifting hands from one part of AT&T to another.”

As early as last month, outgoing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler sent out a report denouncing AT&T’s sponsored data arrangement with its subsidiary DirecTV as a violation of net neutrality rules, claiming that it could “present significant risks to consumers and competition. […] These sponsored data offerings may harm consumers and competition by unreasonably discriminating in favor of downstream providers owned or affiliated with the network providers,” Mr. Wheeler wrote.

Net neutrality levels the field so companies can’t play these kinds of games or create pay-to-play “fast lanes” on the Internet. Your provider can naturally charge you more for faster Internet speeds, but those speeds must stay consistent no matter what content you access. However, with the changing of the guard at the FCC, chances are favorable that zero rating services and similar schemes will expand, ultimately dealing a death blow to net neutrality.

What happens if net neutrality goes away?

If Pai succeeds in rolling back the Open Internet Order, the implications could be more far-reaching than you think. The effective end of net neutrality would usher in a new digital landscape characterized by:

  • Rising Internet bills. As telecommunications companies start identifying “preferred” or “premium” sites, you may find yourself being asked to pay higher rates to access those websites.
  • Rising costs for web hosting. Web hosting companies may also feel the sting of these Internet “fast lanes” in the form of higher costs. As a result, they may be forced to pass those costs onto their customers, or reorganize their offerings into a “tiered” hosting structure. If you pay a company to host your website, not only could your monthly bills increase, but your site’s speed could be throttled until you cough up the money for an upgrade.
  • Unpredictable SEO. As net neutrality begins to affect how different sites load on different servers, expect search engine indexing and SEO best practices to be effectively upended. Furthermore, since load times are factored into page rank along with content relevance, future SEO could be difficult to predict since load times will be affected by who is asking for the content and what provider they are using, rather than the content of the pages themselves.
  • Weaker results from paid advertising. If you use a paid inclusion service like Google ads to promote your business, Google’s Quality Score can suffer if your ad shows up on a slow-loading page.

Of course, until net neutrality rules are officially changed, it’s difficult to predict exactly how this will all play out or how it will affect your wallet. Regardless, if net neutrality finds itself on the chopping block, the bottom line is we can all expect to pay more for less.

February 7, 2017

Office Hours

Do you have a specific question about your website that you’ve been wanting to ask? Maybe you want to optimize the way your site runs, or maybe you’d like to become more comfortable updating your site content in WordPress.

Our team is holding online office hours on Wednesday, December 14th at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT). We’ll be available to answer questions for a full hour. If the room is full, hang tight or come back later in the hour.

Whether it’s increasing your site speed or writing more effective meta and title tags, we look forward to helping you.

Join Office Hours!
(GoToMeeting link will be active during Office Hours)

December 7, 2016
SSUMC

Before & After: Sandy Springs United Methodist

Since 1848, the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church has served the greater Atlanta area. We are thankful to be selected by the established institution to help redesign their website. The new site is responsive and built on the WordPress platform to enable this very active church manage their content and event calendars with ease.

Client’s Name: Sandy Springs United Methodist Church

Location: Sandy Springs, GA

Services Provided: WordPress content management system, Web design, and Cloud Hosting

Website Link: ssumc.org

SSUMC Before and After

December 4, 2014

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12 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer

Questions For Your Web DesignerAs a business owner, you probably don’t have time to create your own website. That means you need to hire a web designer to do the work for you. However, that doesn’t mean you need to jump in blindly. Learning about your web designer and their services will help ensure your website reaches the level of quality you require. Read More »

January 31, 2014

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How Much Do You Charge for a Website?

No reputable web design firm will provide an exact quote for a website without assessing your needs. Numerous factors influence the cost of a website including the overall design and functionality of the website. These factors are what web designers use to access your needs and determine the cost for creating your website:

Design

Are you looking for an original design that will set your brand apart or just a one-page web presence for your business featuring your contact details? Custom designs that “wow” visitors may take more time and cost more money but can be a worthwhile investment if visitors remain on a website longer. Interactive features add to the cost of a website but they can also enhance visitor’s experience.

Ecommerce

A website with a full-feature shopping cart adds the cost of designing a website. Ecommerce websites need SSL certificates, a data feed if you plan on submitting products to shopping comparison websites or larger marketplaces.  Remember that a FAQ page, a shipping policy page and a terms and conditions page help build a shopper’s trust.

Responsiveness

Websites optimized for desktop users are the least expensive type of website to design but mobile devices now outsell desktop computers, so a website designed only for desktop users’ limits your customer base. A website design firm should be concerned about your target audience, as well as your budget, creating a mobile version of your website or a responsive website design that changes depending on the visitor’s device, screen size and browser.

SEO

Search engine optimization includes both onsite and off-site work. SEO includes coding a website so search engines can understand the content, keyword research to reach your target audience, site loading speed, submitting a website to search engines and more.

Social Media Optimization

The power of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ cannot be ignored. If you need your web design firm to create content for these social media platforms or incorporate icons for your website that let visitors share content, this may add to the cost of your project.

Copywriting

Copywriting entices website visitors to make a purchase, click on a link, request a quote, or join a mailing list. The content must be keyword rich, include calls to action, and be free of any grammar or spelling errors. If you plan to run a PPC advertising campaign, your website design firm will meet your needs to design ads that provide a strong return on your investment.

Support

Will you need on-going support or will you create and post new content yourself?

Timeframe

Great websites take time to build. If you need to launch your website by a specific date, you will likely pay extra for a website design firm to prioritize your project.

Cost should never be the deciding factor when selecting a web design firm; it is quality that counts. Reputable web design firms will assess your needs and work within your budget to create a functional, aesthetically pleasing website that is SEO-friendly.

For an estimate on what your next web design project will cost, contact us for a free quote.

August 4, 2013

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Five Reasons Your Business Needs CloudFlare

CloudFlare Logo
CloudFlare is a service that protects and accelerates any website. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, your web traffic is routed through their intelligent global network. CloudFlare automatically optimizes the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. CloudFlare blocks threats and limits abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.

Here are five reasons you should take a closer look at CloudFlare:

  1. CloudFlare Makes Your Site Faster
    CloudFlare’s global CDN (Content Delivery Network) has 24 data centers around the world.  CloudFlare’s CDN automatically caches your static files so these files are stored closer to your visitors while delivering your dynamic content directly from your web server.CloudFlare then uses a technology called Anycast to route your visitors to the nearest data center.As a result, sites that use CloudFlare load twice as fast for visitors, regardless of location.  In addition, CloudFlare network sites use 65% fewer server requests and save 60% of bandwidth.
  2. Security
    Once implemented, the CloudFlare system offers a range of security levels and automatically tunes the best level of protection for your site based upon your needs.  CloudFlare protects against such evils as cross-site scripting, SQL database injections, comment spammers and email harvesters.
  3. Search Engine Optimization
    On average, sites that use CloudFlare load twice as fast.  One of the factors influencing your website’s search engine ranking is the speed by which your website loads, according to Google’s Webmaster Tools.
  4. Browser Optimization
    Every browser works a bit differently, whether it is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer on a PC or Apple’s Safari on an iPhone. CloudFlare’s automatic browser optimization adjusts the way content is delivered based on the particular device accessing the site to maximize speed without affecting the site’s look or features.
  5. Uptime
    If your server ever goes offline, CloudFlare will serve a limited copy of your cached website to keep it online for your visitors. CloudFlare builds a recent version of your website, so your most popular pages are represented.

For more information about implementing CloudFlare on your website, call us at 404.848.9440 or contact us here.

January 23, 2014

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Before & After: Barefoot Pool Service

Barefoot Pool Service

This month, we launched a redesign for an Atlanta pool and spa maintenance and repair company.

Client’s Name: Barefoot Pool Service

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Services Provided: Professional redesign, logo redesign, content management system, web hosting and email.

Website Link: https://www.barefootpools.com

September 26, 2013

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Before & After: Buddy Kelley Properties

Buddy Kelley PropertiesThis month, we published a redesign for a Henry County, Georgia, real estate brokerage that works with residential and commercial properties.

Client’s Name: Buddy Kelley Properties

Location: McDonough, Georgia

Description: For over 35 years, Buddy Kelley Properties has represented buyers and sellers of real estate in Henry County and the surrounding counties, too.  The client required a site that would update automatically from Georgia MLS, include a mobile search for smartphones and could be easily updated by the staff at the brokerage.

Services Provided: Professional redesign, content management system, IDX, web hosting, email newsletter and cloud-based email.

Website Link: https://buddykelleyproperties.com

September 26, 2013
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