Net Neutrality Repeal: The Impact on Your IT Network

January 9th, 2018

Since the FCC has removed the Net Neutrality legal framework that governs Internet access and control, businesses and consumers alike are bracing for change. The door has opened for partiality and new rules of engagement that will likely create premium service categories, allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to prioritize Internet access and bandwidth for select customers. As such, IT executives are left wondering how Net Neutrality changes will impact their business and if they need to rethink their network strategy. As a trusted IT networking partner empowering mega-brands to meet the highest performance expectations, Masergy is helping our customers navigate these new waters. Here are the considerations we think will be most helpful for IT leaders.

Threat Factor #1: Internet Fast Lanes with Potentially Higher Prices

The post-neutrality reality is this: The door is now open for ISPs to create internet “fast lanes,” charging consumers and businesses alike for premium service. Large ISPs are likely to tag all Internet traffic, and your access will be prioritized based on those tags. ISPs will have the right to give priority to those paying higher prices for faster service. That means businesses leveraging broadband internet for network connectivity today could experience performance decreases as they are shifted into the “slow lane” and be forced to pay more to get back to their previous service levels.

Threat Factor #2: Gartner Predicts Major Internet Outages

Beyond the repeal of Net Neutrality, there is another danger to consider in 2018. Gartner finds that “as enterprises increasingly rely on the Internet for WAN connectivity, they are challenged by the unpredictable nature of Internet services” in its December 2017 Predicts 2018: Enterprise Network Infrastructure and Services report G00344586. Gartner reports that “within the next five years, there will be a major Internet outage that impacts more than 100 million users for longer than 24 hours.”

The Bottom Line: Given the new potential for Internet “fast lanes” and the vulnerability of our public Internet access, networks that rely predominantly on public Internet connectivity are the most at risk.

Brace for Impact: “Over the Top” IT Networks are Most At Risk

Companies are increasingly leveraging broadband Internet for WAN connectivity at certain locations where it makes the most sense for their business. This an increasing trend as more applications move to public clouds and SaaS providers, and also given the advent of SD-WAN. But a broadband “over the top” approach may make networks more susceptible to performance issues in a not-so-neutral environment. With ISPs giving priority to premium customers, companies that don’t pay could be sacrificing productivity, customer experience, and losing their competitive edge. As such, IT leaders will benefit from reevaluating their networking strategy and risk and then adjust accordingly.

Clearly, those with dedicated private networks such as MPLS will avoid these challenges altogether. But at Masergy, we find that most of our customers’ IT networks are hybrid–meaning that they contain a mix of private and public connectivity and different networking technologies that are seamlessly integrated within our global Software Defined Network Platform. This is advantageous, because not only can our clients balance price and performance by location, they can rest easy in a post-neutrality world knowing they can easily adjust course if post-neutrality performance issues arise.

Call to Action: Network Evaluations and Flexible Architecture Recommendations

Reevaluate Your Network Connectivity: Knowing that ISPs may have the power to manipulate internet traffic, IT leaders should look at their public network connections through a new lens. Ask yourself: What public connectivity options do you have currently, and what would it take to transition them to private connections? This is important because private connections can also access public cloud resources, removing the risk of the public connectivity while providing SLA-backed access to your cloud applications. Microsoft Azure is a great example because generally users are accessing Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure through the public internet. At Masergy, our Direct Cloud Connect service provides you with private, secure, and SLA-backed access direct to this public cloud resource.

Consider a Hybrid WAN and Remain Access Agnostic: Given the new reality, it may become more important than ever to have a hybrid wide area network (WAN) backed by a powerful software defined platform. With hybrid WANs, you can have private access to high-priority locations (headquarters and data centers) while leveraging cost-effective public connectivity to remote employees. Or, you can combine private and public access at any given location for cost efficiencies and resiliency. When you have Masergy’s Software Defined Platform these two connectivity types work seamlessly together while still maintaining consistent performance–even in a post-net-neutrality world. This is made possible specifically because of Masergy’s unique, legacy-free and globally available network platform. Once your business is connected, you can benefit from Masergy’s industry-leading service level agreements.

Derisk Net Neutrality with Network Flexibility: Hybrid WANs, software defined platforms, and access agnosticism are the next-generation networking tools that provide enterprises with unparalleled flexibility. Net Neutrality has spawned lawsuits, protests, and online uproar. When faced with so much uncertainty, you and your network need to be agile, and that’s where Masergy offers a clear and stable choice.

Learn more about hybrid networking with Masergy’s SD-WAN solutions

Jody Gilliam

With 15+ years of experience developing content-focused marketing strategies for technology companies, Jody crafts thought leadership articles and develops research ideas to support Masergy’s marketing initiatives. Her background in journalism serves her well, as she works closely with industry analysts and Masergy’s top leaders to publish engaging content. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Southwestern University and her master’s degree in digital marketing from the University of Denver.