Net Neutrality; A Solution in Need of a Problem
You Are Not Alone...
If you are a real estate agent or broker - Net Neutrality is the recent buzz everyone is talking about - yet they don't really know what they are talking about. All of these people that have grown up with technology treat us older folks (those older than 40) as relics of the past, whose only purpose is to slow down progress because we don't understand anything about technology. We are the ones that raise our hands 30 minutes into the technology class and ask "What page on you on?" or "I forgot my password, can you help me?" I am speaking to you. The ones that somehow managed to sell 10 million dollars of real estate year in and year out for the past 20 years. The ones younger agents roll their eyes at when we walk through the classroom door. I tell you, you are not alone... But stand up and be proud!
To the Geeks and Gurus
All of you geeks and gurus out there - give me some space. I am about to explain Net Neutrality to a bunch of folks who don't understand it, and who will never admit it openly. Fact is - most don't understand it. Even the young agents who think they're all that and a bag of chips, with their technology gizmos and such, don't understand it either.
So here we go...
Net Neutrality is a governement regulation implemented in 2015 by the FCC. In a nutshell, it compells all internet service providers to treat all websites equally, regardless of the content those websites provide. It prevents service providers from monkeying with your access to websites - either by slowing them down or blocking them entirely. That means that Comcast, a provider of cable TV and internet service, cannot artifically slow down or block traffic from sites like Netflix or Hulu - two websites that stream TV and movie content. It doesn't take long for anyone to figure out why Comcast may want to slow internet access to Netflix and Hulu - they provide content that competes directly with their cable TV offerings. My daughter is one of those young agents who has grown up with all the gizmos and in her home, she has Comcast internet service - but no cable TV service. All movies and programming she watches are on Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, or Youtube. She is 21, and not unlike all of her friends and peer group. My daughter is strongly supportive of Net Neutrality - but ask her what it's all about and she says "THE INTERNET WILL DIE WITHOUT NET NEUTRALITY!" In other words, she doesn't understand it either.
Net Neutrality Repealed!
Net Neutrality was repealed last week by the FCC - we are now back to the internet as it was before Net Neutrailty. Have you noticed? There are many corporations that support net neutrality, and many that oppose it. Zillow and Realtor.com support the regulation, while Comcast and Verizon do not. Hmmm. Something seems odd here. The CONTENT providers (Zillow and Realtor.com) want government regulation, while the SERVICE providers do not?
Is This "Inside Baseball?"
Much of the discussion of Net Neutrality is akin to "Inside Baseball." You don't need to know the mechanics of pitching a circle change up to enjoy the game. As with Net Neutrality, you don't need to know the details of bandwidth, token ring networks, asynchornous data services, or anything else the Geeks and Gurus will baffle you with. What you need to understand is good old free markets and how they work. You also need to know something about it for the future. Since the FCC repealed Net Neutrality, it will be headed to the legislature. Most believe that is the proper place for it anyway. Politicians are bought and sold every day by corporations. Corporations can't vote, but you can. The largest voting block is the over 40 generation. The younger folks make a lot of noise, but we older folks who can't remember passwords, somehow remember when and where to vote.
The Government is Not Your Friend in this Fight
First and foremost, the government is influenced by people. If the people benefit from a regulation, they are for it. If the people incur a detriment due to a regualtion, they are against it. Net Neutrality is a regulation that has winners and losers. Realtor.com, Zillow, Netflix, etc. are not opposed to its repeal because they are concerned about you or your brokerage business - they are against its repeal because it could effect their business model. Realtor.com and Zillow are not benevolent organizations with your well-being in mind.
Decide for Yourself
All of this considered, there is much to know about Net Neutrality. I've prepared a white paper for those of us that struggle with what it is. This paper should introduce to you some basic understanding in which you can then read articles and formulate your own opinions.
The Bottom Line
Net Neutrality was implemented 2 years ago and was repealed last week. The internet had evolved from 2 geeks in 1968 to what it is today without government regulation. The reason it grew so fast and so successfully, is because it was one of the few places freedom in its purist form could still exist. We are watching the struggle between content
providers (Zillow, Netflix, Facebook, etc.) and service providers (Comcast, Verizon, AT&T) to see who can influence the government the best. Whoever wins - it will have impacts on all of us. My vote is we let freedom ring, and let the market decide. Keep the government out of it.
If there is any regulation Zillow or Realtor.com supports - rest assured it will be good for them and bad for you. These are extremely sophisticated players taking advantage of unsophisticated participants. They only support what will benefit them - but they will shroud their intent with platitudes toward the individual agent or brokerage. (See my previous post for an example on how they dupe brokers and agents.) It is our duty to be informed, and be 100% supportive of Net Neutrality repeal.
Want a more indepth understanding? Download a White Paper that explains this in more detail: Net-Neutrality - An Explanation for the Rest of Us