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Net Neutrality and Your Association: What to Know

Net neutrality has been the topic on many businesses (and internet users) minds. And there’s a reason why - it has the power to entirely change the way the online world works. We've got the answers to your questions.

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Net neutrality has been the topic on many businesses (and internet users) minds over the past few months. And there’s a reason why - it has the power to entirely change the way the online world works.

So, you might be wondering - just what does net neutrality have to do with your association? In short, a lot. With all the buzz around the topic, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information while trying to find out what it all means for your association. Which is why we’ve scoured the internet for only the best, most relevant information on net neutrality (while we still have access to it!).

Let’s go over net neutrality: What it is, how it can affect businesses and organizations, and what other associations are doing to help in the fight for net neutrality.

So, what is it?

As we mentioned before, there’s a lot of information on net neutrality. Because it’s such a big topic with a lot of moving parts, we’d like to focus on the basics of what net neutrality really is.

According to Forbes, the concept of net neutrality states that there should be equal access to all information on the internet. Whether that information is presented by a large corporation, a small business, or a single participant. All information on the internet is of equal access and everyone using the internet should have equal opportunity to create and communicate. This means a lot of things for internet users.

One, it means a level playing field for all businesses with an online presence. A small business owner has the same opportunities to market their brand and make money as a large corporation does. It also means that internet users have unlimited access to information, meaning they can search and find brands of any size on the internet. This is a great alternative to traditional media, where typically larger corporations hold all of the marketing power.

Essentially Net neutrality is a legal principle that governs the way internet broadband gatekeepers like Verizon, Comcast, and other server providers treat the internet traffic. And from the sound of it, everything works great. But here’s why it’s actually not so great.

The changes

That’s right, now let’s talk about the end of net neutrality. With a President in charge that is no longer in favor net neutrality, there have been some recent changes that are raising some eyebrows. These laws have the potential to close up shop on free/equal internet access, leaving small businesses and consumers in the dust.

So, how do the new changes work? Well, if regulations that stop internet service providers from charging for access to specific information are removed, it could spell trouble for all small businesses, nonprofits - and even your association. These new laws could make it possible for internet service providers to charge for data prioritization - and charge they will. In fact, the fees could be so expensive that many small business owners/other internet users might not have the funds in their budget to pay for it. So a business cannot pay to access certain areas of the internet. Which then means, a business cannot access their target audience. Now, you can see how this would cause problems.

Small business risk losing the online channels that much of their income could possibly come from. If net neutrality/equal internet access is lost, these businesses will have to revert back to traditional marketing- a channel that we know is dominated by these larger companies.

And speaking of these larger companies, where do they fall into play? Well, with smaller businesses out of the picture, it leaves an internet filled with the marketing and advertising of larger companies who can afford to pay for total internet access. That means that when consumers log onto the internet, they’ll only be shown ads for big companies instead of small businesses, limiting their opportunity to consume all types of brands.

Now that we know how these new laws have the ability to affect big and small businesses, let’s get down to the real question at hand: How will your association be affected?

How net neutrality repeal can affect you

As you can imagine, net neutrality repeal can have a number of damaging effects on the way your association functions online. But let’s go over three major effects your association needs to keep its eyes peeled for in the near future as net neutrality laws change.

1. Decrease in web traffic

Without net neutrality in place, paid prioritization is something that could occur. This means site owners/web users that pay more in fees have priority over how fast and well their website functions. This also means your website could suffer slow loading times, in turn decreasing both your paid and organic traffic. According to, loading time is more important than you think. If your website’s load time doubles from 2 to 4 seconds, the average bounce rate doubles as well, skyrocketing to 17.1%. This means many of your website visitors will leave your association’s website before it even loads.

2. Decrease in web conversions

A decrease in web traffic means a decrease in web conversions as well. Many studies show that having a slower website can lead to fewer conversions in the long run. That’s right, net neutrality had a strong impact on your association’s revenue. Take away those rights, and you could see a dip in revenue, both dues and non-dues related.

But you might be thinking, how does this affect me? My association doesn’t deal with ecommerce. And while that may be true, it has everything to do with your membership signups. If your website is slow, your audience will decrease. And that’s an audience that could have become a potential member for your association. Your website is full of valuable information on how to become a member, but if audiences can’t easily access that information, you’ll lose their interest.

3. Decrease in user experience

And even if you do have those dedicated members that stay on your website long enough for it to load, you can’t expect them to have a positive experience on a website that barely runs. In an interview Forbes had with a general counsel representative at Twilio, there’s thought that net neutrality repeal can also affect web optimization as well. More or less, companies that pay larger fees for optimization will have websites that run smoothly, while others may have less than satisfying website optimization.

There’s also talk of certain web applications being blocked under net neutrality repeal. This means many important aspects of your association’s website might be locked to your audience. It’s no wonder user experience can decrease with these changes.

How can you help

So, if you’ve read all of this information and want to put a stop to net neutrality repeal, you’re not alone. In fact, one association is doing more than its part to keep others informed about net neutrality and put a stop to further laws passing.

The Internet Association (IA) has an entire web page dedicated to net neutrality. They even have videos dedicated to the subject, with tips on how others can “save the open internet” IA does an amazing job of raising advocacy for net neutrality. They’re a great example to follow in order to take the necessary steps to stop net neutrality laws in their tracks. Your association can learn a lot from following in IA’s footsteps. Keep yourself aware, educated, and ready to fight against net neutrality laws when the opportunity next presents itself.

Everything your association needs to know about net neutrality, its repeal, and its effects. We hope this information was useful. Don’t let yourself miss out on any valuable information about how to deal with the topic of net neutrality and your association.