A lot of businesses are starting to discover they have become pawns in a war over control of the Internet that could wind up either increasing the cost of security or compromising it outright.
If you run a small-to-midsize business that relies on a local Internet service provider (ISP) to conduct transaction with companies in places such as Mexico or China, chances are you've thought about making sure your environment is secure. Ideally, you would want your ISP to provide secure Internet service at the most reasonable cost possible.
But because of pressure being applied by the telecommunications oligarchy that now controls Intenet access, getting that secure Internet access soon might become even more costly. Case in point: A prominent ISP in New York -- which claims business customers lured away by other providers typically return for the faster service and better security it provides – is complaining of increasing pressure from larger telecommunication companies to throttle back Internet service and increase costs for differentiated levels of Internet access or risk being de-peered.
Another ISP, Roger Communications, is drawing a lot of criticism for raising its prices for what the company called an “enhancement” of service. Critics say that enhancement of service is really part of a strategy by Rogers to defy Net Neutrality, something telecomunication carriers desperately continue to try and strike down so they can charge higher prices for differentiated levels of service. There would be nothing wrong with that idea if all carriers were competing on equal-footing. But there is concern major telecommunications carriers are going to limit access to Internet bandwidth using complicated peering agreements to make sure no one competes too aggressively.
The major telecommunications carriers will tell you that taking away Net Neutrality will allow them to give your grandma, who only uses three websites, a lower-cost service. Big guys, such as AT&T, won’t get ugly and pull the plug on cross-network traffic, but there is a nasty game being played well below the Internet surface.
Any restriction on Internet access will cost small-business owners such as Nick Zapetis, a welder in West Palm Beach, Fla., more money when he has to pay for a premium Internet service that allows him to keep ordering fasteners and other mechanical parts from Mexico. And securing his business computers will not get any cheaper, either.
There are a lot of people who think Net Neutrality is just a political squabble between carriers and the people who create Web content. In reality, the absence of Net Neutrality could raise Internet costs, which would inevitably result in ISPs throttling back on security to stay affordable.