The Internet has revolutionized the way we interact, study, research, and do business. As a modern care coordination company based in New York, we use the Internet to help families manage the care of loved ones across the United States. Our ability to reach those families is threatened by the repeal of net neutrality rules, which prohibited large broadband providers from blocking and slowing web traffic or creating pricey priority fast-lanes online.
At Wellthy, we dream of the day when taking care of the sick and the elderly becomes seamlessly human and tech-powered. Wellthy is a care concierge, we help manage health care for families with complex, chronic care. Families are assigned a dedicated Care Coordinator (think personal healthcare assistant) who creates a care plan and gets tasks done, all through a modern online experience. Our care coordinators are mostly stay-at-home mothers with social work backgrounds. The Internet plays a critical role in empowering them to use their expertise to help families like their own while maintaining a flexible schedule.
Federal regulators adopted strong net neutrality protections in 2015 to make sure that the Internet kept the open no-barriers philosophy it was based on. The rules were designed to make sure big cable and telecom companies couldn’t enrich themselves by charging consumers and small businesses like ours more to connect online. This allowed businesses like mine to get off the ground and succeed, without having to overcome yet another roadblock.
But last year the Federal Communications Commission removed those protections, much to the delight of big cable and telecom companies. It was a terrible moment for Americans and business owners like me who rely on the internet.
The Internet is supposed to be a place of freedom and equal opportunity, where winners and losers are decided by the market, not a few executives at a few corporations selling pricy Internet access. Healthy, open competition is what allows the best ideas and technologies to thrive. The Internet should be a place of equal opportunity, not a place where a few monopolistic cable companies can influence what we all see and hear.
When we started our company here in New York City, it didn’t matter to our customers that we were based in New York. We could innovate and compete with companies everywhere, from New York City to San Francisco and cities in every corner of the country.
But without net neutrality, there is no longer a guarantee we’ll be able to reach our customers at all. Any internet service provider across the country can now stand in the way if it helps them sell a competing service or give a leg up to a bigger company who can pay more for better access to users. Either way, our company’s future — as well as the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans working at small internet-based businesses like ours — are threatened by this new post-net neutrality reality.
If companies are forced to pay exorbitant fees to guarantee their product can reach consumers quickly, they may have a hard time staying in business, must less expanding.
Net neutrality protections are no longer in effect, and it won’t be long before we begin to see and feel its effects across the country. Congress has the power to prevent this mess and needs to pass legislation that would restore net neutrality protections. Our livelihood, the future of innovation across the country, and the connectivity of Internet users depends on it.