Rocco Balsamo

@theroccob

How repealing net-neutrality could destroy my small business

There are two possible scenarios, and I don’t like either of them.

A few weeks ago I launched SIMMER.io, a website for sharing 3D content and games. The early product makes it painless to share WebGL builds created with the Unity game engine.

In reality SIMMER is really a content delivery platform, and will require lots of bandwidth as more people start to use the site.

I use Google Cloud to deliver the games over a content delivery network for fast speeds whether gamers live in Dallas, Denmark or Dubai.

I’m one of the little people. A guy with a cool idea that put my savings on the line to pursue a cool idea. Living in San Francisco for six months on just a savings account is pretty difficult to do, but lucky for me, server costs are relatively cheap.

my site

To build an audience I need to be wary of short term money grabs like plastering ads all over the site. So essentially I’m running at a complete loss for awhile as I work out monetization. As the site gains more traction I anticipate delivering petabytes of data which will be costly.

If net neutrality goes away, there are the two things that I could see happening. The one everybody talks about is tiered internet service:

Artist mockup from a reddit post 8 years ago.

I actually don’t think this is likely to happen. I think there would be too much consumer backlash. My guess is that ISP’s will tell cloud hosting providers like Google Cloud or AWS, “hey, we’ll allow you to send data to our clients, at tiered speeds”. And then the cloud hosting providers would pass the costs on to us, the webdev community.

Here’s how I imagine the Cloudfront CDN pricing table to look:

Notice the “slow” lanes and fast lanes at the top of the column

I’m lucky enough to live in an area with an “indy” ISP, Monkeybrains, who believes in net neutrality. But in many markets, ISP’s like Comcast and Time Warner have a monopoly or near monopoly.

While it doesn’t make sense to have ten ISP’s running cables all over town, it does make sense for natural monopolies like cable and power to be highly regulated by the government.

my indie isp

If the net neutrality repeal goes through, it is likely to damage or even destroy my small business. If ISP’s pass tiered costs to consumers, many will choose the cheapest option… that probably won’t include fast access to independent sites like mine. If they pass the tiered costs to cloud providers, I also lose with potentially unbearable hosting costs.

So this is not just about paying more for 4K video on Netflix. It’s about stifling innovation and making it much more difficult for “the little people” like myself to create innovative experiences on the internet.

If you liked this article I’d love a 👏! Or follow me on twitter or medium so that more people can see it. And help save the internet here.

If you’re on a desktop browser, give Mutant Snake by Nannings Games a try:

mutant snake on SIMMER.io

Shhhhh… Medium game embeds are a secret feature that I haven’t publicized yet.

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