FCC plan to overturn net neutrality will hurt REALTORS®

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to repeal net neutrality regulations, proposed by Chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai last week, could make doing business much more expensive for smaller real estate brokerages and multiple listing services across the country.

“At a National level we are exploring how to keep an even playing field for all brokerages and real estate professionals,” said Jed Etters, 2017 Seattle King County REALTORS® Director and broker with John L. Scott. “Our big concern is that this could open the door to additional challenges concerning the open web.”

The current net neutrality rules prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing down or blocking websites and from charging internet users more for access to higher traffic websites like Google and Netflix. The likely repeal of these rules means that ISPs could charge users varying rates for online content instead of one flat rate per month for total internet access, like most consumers currently pay.

So, not only could your internet bill look more like a bundled cable bill, but your websites or websites you frequent could be moved into a “slow traffic” lane that cost more to load normally. For a real estate brokerage, this could mean a much higher cost for dependable access to websites necessary to do business.

Opponents of net neutrality argue that the rules aren’t necessary, saying that government attempts to regulate technology are counterproductive. Part of the reason the internet has grown so rapidly, opponents argue, is because of the freedoms previously afforded to ISPs and consumers to freely innovate and compete on the web.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said in a statement, “We remain concerned that a rollback of net-neutrality rules could lead to blocking, throttling, or discriminating against Internet traffic, or even ‘paid prioritization’ arrangements that put small mom-and-pop businesses at a disadvantage in the marketplace. We will continue working with the FCC to share these concerns and ensure a fair and open internet where everyone can succeed.”

Learn more about net neutrality.