16 December 2017

One Way The Repeal Of Net Neutrality Affects Us

The other day, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to get rid of "net neutrality", which prevented internet service providers (ISP) from blocking, or drastically slowing the uploads, from other ISPs.

Most people I know who don't own ISPs (OK, I don't know anyone who does!) don't like this.  Most agree that it will lead to poorer-quality service at higher prices and severely impact those who live in areas that have only one ISP.

OK.  So how, you ask, does it afffect cycling?  Well, since I don't use electronic devices while I ride, I couldn't tell you.  I did learn, however, of ways it could affect people in the bike business.

Stephen Ambruzs is one of them.  He recently realized a longtime dream when he opened Downshift, a bicycle cafe with AirBnb lodgings upstairs, in Roanoke, Virginia.

Of course, since so many people, particularly the young, use the internet for everything from answering e-mails to, well, finding information about bike-related stuff and issues, it's easy to see how the repeal of net neutrality would take a bite out of that part of his business.  He points out, however, it would negatively impact his sales of bikes, parts and accessories, as well as his repair business.  

Stephen Ambrusz and employee greet customer at Downshift.

Today, he explains, most people--again, particularly the young--find shops like his by using apps on their "smart" phones.   And he just happens to be in an area that has only one ISP.  Encumbering access to sites that are not part of the ISP might keep some people from finding his shop.

Now, Donald Trump probably wasn't thinking about cycling when he appointed his acolytes to the FCC board. (Actually, he doesn't think much about cycling at all, except to denigrate particular people, like John Kerry, for engaging in it.)  But it seems that almost every one of his actions, or those of his appointees, has been bad for us.

Of course, many other small business owners will be similarly hurt by the repeal of net neutrality.  But, as a cyclist, I have a soft spot for folks like Ambruzs and want to see them succeed.


  1. I live in Roanoke, VA, the location of "Downshift"...a great community for cycling. I couldn't agree more with your observations in today's blog. When the American people finally awaken to the destruction that the current administration is bringing to our standard of living in the US, there will hopefully be a political backlash the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades. 2018 will be a fortuitous time to be a Democrat or Independent.

  2. Anon--Great to hear from you in Roanoke. I, too, hope for the backlash of which you speak!