Mulligan Management Group, LLC

How the Repeal of Net Neutrality Will Impact Meetings and Events


On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communication Commission repealed net neutrality standards that were put in place in 2015. The act, called Restoring Internet Freedom now allows large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon and AT&T to create a “pay for play” situation where large ecommerce clients will experience better, faster internet than their smaller competitors.

Of the 22 million individuals and business owners that wrote to the FCC commissioners and/or their congressman about this topic, it is estimated over 80% opposed the plan to repeal net neutrality.

What Happens Next


First and foremost, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, along with AGs from Virginia, Delaware, Hawaii, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont, and the District of Columbia plan on suing the FCC to reinstate net neutrality.

In addition, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will force a vote on a bill in January that would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules.

In the meantime, it is likely that a Federal court will grant a stay on this matter for a predetermined period of time before the new regulations can go into effect. The estimated delay could be anywhere from 30 to 180 days.


What Happens if the Repeal Moves Forward


The ISPs will create a slow lane and a fast lane for internet traffic. The fast lane will have priority over broadband use. In addition, if a website is on the slow lane, the website may be blocked all together due to throttling. This is worrisome to startups and non-profits who have a limited budget and cannot afford to pay the same fees as large, enterprise organizations.

In addition, there will be no controls over the costs charged to the consumer to speed up internet and the process to implement the upgrades may be difficult and time consuming. 


How Meetings and Events May Be Affected

Because most meeting and event planners represent small to medium sized companies, associations and non-profits and because suppliers often pass their internet cost onto the event planner while they are onsite, I recommend that meeting planners increase their Wi-Fi budget or at least have a contingency plan to address any upsurge in costs next year.

In addition, registration and event sites may be so slow potential attendees will abandon them or worse, these sites may be hidden from users all together. This may also impact organizers who count on drawing in and registering exhibitors, speakers and sponsors online.

However, large, heavily funded events will pay the price to participate and potentially force the cancellation of many smaller, niche events that rely on the internet to spread the word about their conference organically.


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