Admittedly, when the topic of Net Neutrality first showed up, I ignored it because it sounded too complicated and I didn’t think it had much to do with me. I was wrong.

Too late, (though I still emailed my congressmen), I spent some time trying to learn more, and I still am. I’m trying to understand what is fair and what makes sense.

The gist is that in the USA, the phone and cable companies like ATT, Comcast and Verizon want to take over the Internet and essentially own it. But before they invest the billions it will take to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure (phone lines, cable), they want the US Gov’t to promise that it will be worth their investment.

So they want to be paid back.

To do that, they need money from us. They need money from big Internet-based companies like Google, Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo! and others like them . Also, the not high profit, like Craigslist, to pay to be accessed by you and me. DSL and cable providers will charge us differently by offering tier services based on things like what websites we use the most and how we use the Internet.

For example, if you are heavy users of online games and social networking, you will pay more for the bandwidth than the senior citizen who only searches once in awhile and emails their family on occasion. Businesses and companies who access the Internet will pay more than consumers. I’m not sure what happens to free Wireless, but I’ve seen concerns brought up about it by cities that are thinking of offering it city-wide. Some say this is the end of the Internet as we know it, here in the USA.

Besides the tier-based payment, there is said to be (or a fear) that the ISP’s will decide what search engine you will get depending on which one partners with them to have the fastest delivery speed. So for example, Verizon customers, if partnered with Yahoo!, will get that search engine as their default and it will also be the one that downloads faster. Should they prefer Google, they will have to wait longer.

I have read that content discrimination is not part of the Net Neutrality bill. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to wonder what a religious-owned ISP will block from consumers if they want to. There are more and more TV cable channels that target specific markets and belief systems. ISP’s could do exactly the same thing and only provide access to specific sites. For parents, this might be a good thing.

As I read the comments and articles, pro and con, I keep wondering what this means for web design and SEO? Search engines are getting better at delivering results based on where you live and who you are. How would these changes effect how you apply SEO techniques? What does this do to marketing efforts on behalf of web sites? If Google Adsense Ads no longer reach EVERYBODY, what happens then? How does this work on an Internet where the consumer web site viewing choices are based on how much they can afford or what their ISP will provide?

We’ve been used to designing, optimizing and marketing for an International, fairly wide cross section of people. We know many of our efforts don’t get past Chinese censors. What will it be like if the “censors” are phone companies in the USA? If you incorporate video into sites, do consumers have to pay more to view the web site? What does this mean to sites built outside the USA, who are accessed by American users?

“Let’s put this issue in a larger context: The Internet is on the verge of one of the most dramatic breakthroughs in its history. Pretty soon, more and more Internet users will be streaming data-rich video into their homes, using the Web for online games, practicing telemedicine and having voice conversations.

But standing in the way of these benefits is the need for substantial network upgrades. Face it, the current Internet is creaky and will quickly get congested without improvements.

The Internet providers need to recoup their investments and one way is to charge a premium for managing bandwidth content differently. The need for this is self-evident: Data from a video or phone conversation has to be prioritized differently than data from a standard Web site access.” – (Source) Mike McCurry

“Here’s a real world example that shows how this would work. Let’s say you call Joe’s Pizza and the first thing you hear is a message saying you’ll be connected in a minute or two, but if you want, you can be connected to Pizza Hut right away. That’s not fair, right? You called Joe’s and want some Joe’s pizza. Well, that’s how some telecommunications executives want the Internet to operate, with some Web sites easier to access than others. For them, this would be a money-making regime.” – (Source) Craig Newmark, founder of

Comments? What do you think?


“So far, the Internet has been affordable, accessible and allowed freedom of choice in choosing where one can go on it.

How we access it, and the availability of it, has reached the first step in being changed forever. Regardless of any possible benefits in the long run, we all know, based on experience, that once the US Gov and big name corporations get their greedy hands on something the people want, our rights to use it are compromised.”

“The fact that the Net would be devided by segments – tech savvy people would use one ISP, while housewives would use another – would make me market for one of the ISPs, depending on my product/service.

Designers and marketers will adapt more easily to this than the customers, who will have to try harder for that. In fact, I’d think of not using the Net again, if I can’t find anything I want or I have to overpay for it.”

Imagine There's No Internet
Google Changes Its Mind. Page Rank is Back.


Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)