Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality rules enacted by President Obama’s administration. As a result, internet service providers (ISPs) will no longer be required to offer equal access to all web content, creating the possibility for internet “fast lanes,” higher pricing for better content delivery and propping up of certain sites.
Reaction to the FCC’s net neutrality repeal vote has been intense, and it has mostly focused on how it might affect consumers, including issues like:
- How will it affect Netflix and other video streaming platforms?
- Will consumers have to pay more for Internet access?
- Will ISPs be able to structure internet access similar to cable bills?
- As ISPs get into content creation, how will this affect access to creative content?
For those in the business of providing technology for businesses, such as video conferencing, video collaboration and digital signage, there are different (less sensational) reasons for concern.
Impact on Meeting Room Technology
Narsi Narayanan, senior VP of finance for ClearOne, a provider of meeting room technology including collaboration solutions, speculated on the potential impact on B2B communications solutions during a MyTechDecsions Podcast.
“I think it’s very likely going to affect our AV industry negatively rather than positively,” he told me on the podcast.
One point that Narayanan hammers is uncertainty around pricing. By putting too much power in ISP’s hands, in his estimation, it’s hard to predict the effect on the cost for internet services which AV customer rely on for everything from video conferencing to collaboration to digital signage and various cloud services.
“The uncertainty will hamper more installations of AV equipment, and also the adoption rate of the AV services at a high rate,” he predicts.
“The uncertainty will hamper more installations of AV equipment,” says ClearOne’s Narsi Narayanan.
Narayanan sees many reasons for concerns and recommends that those responsible for making sure their meeting room technology runs effectively should watch closely as fallout from the FCC vote evolves.
Not everybody in the audio-video industry echo Narayanan’s views. Some see potential benefits to the net neutrality repeal and see it as an exercise in deregulation.
“While the term ‘net neutrality’ has a virtuous ring, most integrators sniff out the underlying tenant – more regulation,” says K.C. Schwarz, president of AV integration company benefits group USAV, a PSA company.
“While the term ‘net neutrality’ has a virtuous ring, most integrators sniff out the underlying tenant – more regulation,” says USAV’s K.C. Schwarz.
“From the beginning, the guise of neutrality rapidly morphed into, ‘Neutrality according to whom?’ The answer was the FCC, and thus another regulatory thrust was birthed.”
Most AV integrators understand and prefer that the marketplace act as arbiter, as opposed to regulatory agencies.
“That’s not to say there’s no place for regulation, just that AV integrators prefer minimal regulation that is tailored to quell apparent problems. Most pro AV integrators don’t perceive neutrality abuses exist, or exist to the extent that heavy-handed regulation is needed.”
There is by no means a universal view of the net neutrally repeal among those who work in the AV integration industry. In his MyTechDecisions podcast interview, Narayanan makes a case that the same regulations Schwarz derides may have benefited AV system performance.
Listen to the MyTechDecisions Podcast on Net Neutrality Repeal