How Net Neutrality Affects Small Businesses?

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Updated January 5, 2023

Net neutrality has been a hot topic in the more extensive debate over the internet and consumer privacy laws. It’s something that many find hard to understand, but an issue that comes with plenty of impacts, especially on business owners. One area of concern is how net neutrality affects small businesses. Below, we’ll go over some of the implications.


  • Net neutrality was a set of laws established that guaranteed equal treatment of all websites, regardless of size.
  • With the repeal of net neutrality in 2018, small businesses were threatened because it allowed internet service providers to set up rules favoring more prominent, established platforms.
  • The main concern with ending net neutrality is that providers would require upcharge companies to keep data processing speeds low, disproportionally affecting small businesses.

For more information on consumer privacy, feel free to read our articles explaining why net neutrality is important and how net neutrality affects YouTube. And for additional resources, check out our guide explaining the relationship between Netflix and net neutrality laws.

Insider Tip

Users can take many quick steps to increase their processing speed, like clearing cookies.

How Does Net Neutrality Affect Small Businesses?

Net neutrality mainly has to do with how a government regulates the internet. Net neutrality was among many internet-oriented laws established during the Obama administration. Before net neutrality was repealed, internet service providers (ISPs) were required to make sure that the website and application were guaranteed to run at the same speed.

Of course, this didn’t mean that every website ran at the same speed, but it didn’t allow ISPs to prioritize larger websites over smaller ones and set up fees for special privileges.

Think of ISPs as traffic control. Without net neutrality, they could deliberately clear traffic for larger businesses while blocking the roads in front of smaller stores. Net neutrality guaranteed that ISPs couldn’t do that.

However, net neutrality was repealed in 2017 by the Trump administration, and many claimed it would be doomsday. While it hasn’t exactly been the apocalypse many made it out to be, there are still some unfortunate impacts for smaller businesses that resulted at the end of net neutrality.

Slower Traffic

As stated above, net neutrality deals with how ISPs regulate internet traffic. Fast load times are imperative to running a successful online business in the internet age, where everything is accessed at blinding speed.

Removing net neutrality increases the likelihood that larger websites will receive greater benefits while small businesses are left to either pay for faster speed or suffer the consequences.

Greater Costs

Now, ISPs can set up cost packages that allow websites to pay a fee to receive faster processing speeds. This disproportionately affects small businesses because they are often formed in precarious financial positions than larger, established companies.


Net neutrality is now an issue left up to the states. So if net neutrality is essential to your work or business, be aware of this if you are planning to move.

Harder to Innovate

Whatever type of business, using the communicative power of the internet is vital to setting up an organization for growth. However, when providers favor established companies, smaller, innovative companies struggle to get their foot in the door.

Net neutrality tends to support the status quo, making it harder for new ideas to gain a foothold in the online marketplace.

STAT: The first sweeping net neutrality act was passed in 2015 under President Barack Obama. (source)

How Does Net Neutrality Affect Small Businesses FAQs

Who ended net neutrality?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the committee that voted on whether to keep or end net neutrality.

Are there any advantages to ending net neutrality?

The advantages depend on whether you can afford the additional costs that internet providers may request to keep load times at a minimum.

Do other countries have net neutrality laws?

Many countries and political groups like the European Union have their own set of internet laws establishing net neutrality statutes.
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