As a small business owner, I depend on the Internet, and my access to it on a wireless device to successfully run my company. My web company, Leaping Bytes, has created apps like MapPocket which allows you to put online maps in your pocket, so you can use them later without an Internet connection. We are a small company trying to do big things. Beyond work, I use the internet on my phone for everything from reading the news to getting driving directions and checking out my Facebook page. But I’m alarmed that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint can influence which websites I visit and which businesses I access on my smartphone – and, even worse, the success of my online business.
Your wireless services are currently free to speed up connections to websites and apps that pay for faster service, while slowing down service to others. For example, wireless Internet companies like yours are free to make deals that give preference for shopping to one web site (like Amazon) but not another (like eBay), or that make the download speed for one site faster than the other – unfairly pushing consumers to the faster site.
That worries me. Big companies and the most popular apps often start as small ideas, and if you show preference to the big companies with deep wallets, then many, like me, won’t have the same chance to compete and succeed.
Shareholders of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are going to vote in April and May on this issue, called “network neutrality.” This vote is a critical opportunity for you to come together with your investors and do what is best for your business – and that’s doing right by your customers and the millions of businesses that depend on the way you choose to run yours. Right now, your companies have a choice: to protect consumer choice and the free market on the Internet or to undercut your customers and businesses across the country and damage your reputation as a result. I support wireless network neutrality and urge you and all of your shareholders – big and small – to come together to protect an open Internet for entrepreneurs and customers.