Last December all eyes were on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as they voted in favor of repealing existing net neutrality rules. The question for consumers and IT leaders alike is “What’s happened since?” and “When will this affect me/my business and how we access online resources and information?” While bureaucracy has speed bumps (the new rules were published in the Federal Registrar in late February and now are subject to review of the OMB) most of the new rules will go into effect in late April.
For IT and business leaders, especially those at small and mid-size businesses, the big challenge is to ensure you and your clients have fast, affordable access to the digital sites and resources your business depends on. While no one can say exactly when, how or if service providers like ATT, Comcast and Verizon will change their services, it’s important to pay attention and there are three simple ways to do it.
1. Ask the question
ISPs are still in the midst of figuring how and where they can change their services. Attorneys General from 20 states across the country filed petitions to stop the repeal and states like Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and New York are passing their own laws, filing lawsuits and/or seeing executive orders to uphold net neutrality principles. This means everyone, including your IPS, is still trying to figure out how to move forward. The most important action you can take now is ask questions directly to your service provider: How will you change internet services, support, access and costs to my business as a result of new net neutrality rules going into effect this April? Will your business use any of the following techniques to change how or how fast legal any content, applications, or activity are accessed?
- Blocking or throttling of legal content
- Offering fast-lane access to companies who will pay more for it
- Establishing new data limits
- Bypassing data with “zero rating”
Every ISP has given public assurances that all changes they make will be transparent to businesses and consumers. Get ahead of the game by asking your service provider to clearly outline any changes ahead so you know what to watch for and if/when to shop around for alternatives.
2. Use a scorecard
Infrastructure leaders, especially those who work on or with service desks, know how important score cards are to ensuring Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are monitored and maintained. Now is the perfect time to establish a scorecard process with your ISP if you don’t have one in place. What better way is there to monitor service, cost and value than to carefully measure what your ISP is delivering and whether new rules affect the quality of service. Service desk Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measure resolution rates, customer satisfaction and cost per contact. An ISP scorecard that can help your organization understand the value you get now and whether it changes should measure and monitor the following KPIs:
- Rates. Are they staying the same? If they are changing, how and why are the changing and what is the new, better value that comes with the changes?
- Speed. Are uploads and download speeds good? Are they changing?
- Quality of communications. Are any communications services (VoIP for example) seeing new issues?
- Have customer service levels changed (improved or declined)?
The key is to establish a baseline of performance now if you haven’t already and watch for changes in the months and years ahead.
3. Insist on transparency
While there are no hard and set rules for transparency and reporting for ISPs on this issue, a business can and should insist on transparency. Talk to your ISP to make sure you have easy access to your ISP’s disclosure statement, something that is required by law. Ask them to also provide you with alerts on when services change and make their communications a key part of your scorecard. If service levels are changing without communications and transparency, that’s a failing grade on any scorecard.
Since the December repeal of net neutrality rules, there have been plenty of questions and concerns raised by businesses, consumers and lawmakers alike. Right now, is the time to start getting answers and take stock of the services you have and expect. Start out ahead and informed to ensure the quality of service you can continue to rely on.