Net Neutrality Rollback Put Consumers, Main Street Businesses on the Defensive in Digital Era

Washington, D.C. – December 14, 2017 (nar.realtor) The Federal Communications Commission today announced a rollback of net neutrality rules, sparking a swift rebuke from the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS®.

“The internet as we know it today is a fair and open platform that puts everyone on a level playing field,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation REALTOR® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “FCC’s rollback of the Open Internet Order will mean higher costs and slower service for millions of American consumers and businesses. REALTORS® have strong concerns about what that might mean for the way consumers search for homes online and real estate is transacted.”

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The FCC’s Open Internet Order went into effect in 2015. The rule required that broadband networks remain free of restrictions on content and platforms, while treating all content that flows through the network equally. What that means is internet service providers aren’t allowed to block, throttle or discriminate against internet traffic, such as streaming video or drone photography, among other applications.

Earlier this year, however, the FCC announced that it would reconsider those rules.

REALTORS® raised concerns with formal comments (link is external) to the agency in July that a rollback of net neutrality rules could raise costs on business owners, like real estate professionals, who make heavy use of technology and online platforms. In particular, NAR noted that paid-prioritization models and other anti-competitive practices could put small businesses at a significant disadvantage. For example, NAR said, larger companies could pay for internet fast lanes that deliver content to consumers faster on some websites than from others.

NAR believes consumers would suffer from downgraded services across the internet in such a scenario. At the same time, small businesses that either couldn’t pay the new fee or couldn’t negotiate such an arrangement for themselves would face a significant competitive disadvantage, losing customers to faster websites.

Mendenhall says that the majority of REALTORS® operate small businesses, with typically no more than two principals, and that NAR will fight for its membership on this issue with the hope that net neutrality rules will be reinstated.

“The last thing small businesses need today is additional costs and competitive disadvantages that put them on the defensive,” Mendenhall said. “This isn’t just an issue for Silicon Valley or large telecommunications shops. This is a main street concern that affects businesses and consumers across the country. We intend to make our voice heard on this important issue.”

The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Americans Voice Support for Net Neutrality

Source: Statista

Last Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its plan to reverse net neutrality regulations that were put in place under the Obama administration in 2015. Net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs), regardless of the content that is delivered or who it was created by.

The new proposal, named the Restoring Internet Freedom order, would no longer classify ISPs as public utilities but rather as information services, meaning that telecommunication companies such as Comcast or Verizon would be legally allowed to create so-called fast lanes for content by providers that either pay for preferential treatment or that the ISP itself has a financial stake in, such as Comcast has in NBC Universal. While the FCC argues that scrapping net neutrality rules would boost investments and innovation by limiting government regulation, advocates of net neutrality argue that the concept creates a level playing field for content providers and fear that getting rid of net neutrality would stifle competition and further increase concentration in the online media landscape.

As our chart, based on a Consumer Reports survey, shows, the majority of Americans support the current net neutrality rules and don’t think that ISPs should be allowed to regulate what content their customers can access. The FCC will vote on the order on December 14 and considering the Republican majority in the commission, it is expected to pass regardless of the vocal opposition from companies and consumers alike.

Net Neutrality Infograhic

NAR Voice for Real Estate – Net Neutrality, Closing Disclosure, Finance Reform

NAR is working with other groups to fight against efforts to roll back net neutrality rules to help maintain an even playing field for all real estate content online.

The following video also looks at a win for agents now that the CFPB has made clear lenders can make the closing disclosure available to agents without violating federal privacy rules. Housing finance reform, home staging, and brokerage succession planning are also covered.

The Voice for Real Estate Discusses Net Neutrality, Patent Trolls

Real estate wins with federal rule prohibiting fast and slow lanes on the Internet. That’s the top story in the latest news video from ‘The Voice for Real Estate’. Other news for the week of March 9, 2015: A Realtor® wins a lawsuit against a patent troll and NAR testifies before Congress to get legislation passed to curb these types of abusive patent troll lawsuits once and for all. And NAR looks into why creditworthy renters are having such a hard time getting financing to become home owners.

Realtors Applaud New Net Neutrality Rules Preserving Equal Access to the Internet

Washington, D.C. – February 26, 2015 (Realtor.org) The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron in support of new open Internet rules the Federal Communications Commission passed today:

Chris Polychron

Chris Polychron

“Realtors® welcome the passage of the FCC’s new rules to protect true net neutrality, which are essential to the modern business of real estate that is increasingly conducted online. Today’s vote ensures that consumers will have equal, unencumbered access to the Internet and all legal content and applications, that cannot be blocked or throttled by Internet Service Providers.

“NAR is pleased that the FCC will implement net neutral practices and prohibit paid prioritization, which would have created a two-tiered Internet and put Realtors® and other small business owners at a competitive disadvantage. The new rules are a victory for consumers, and for Realtors® who embrace technology and online resources to meet the needs of their clients.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.