What the end of Net Neutrality means for Australian Business

What is Net Neutrality ? 

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. The first sentence on the Wikipedia entry states :  

Net neutrality is the principle that governments should mandate Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication

Europe and the US have specific laws forcing providers to comply with the principle. There is a recent case, making the news where the US laws have been overturned.

Even though the laws apply to the USA only, a number of ISP’s that are used by companies world-wide operate from the USA.

There is a group that has appealed the overturning of the Net Neutrality laws, so for the time being nothing much will change unless they lose their appeal. ( we hope they don't lose)

This currently provides a level playing field for startups and small companies against much bigger incumbents, and allows tiny e-commerce startups to function and operate in an environment that may otherwise be more challenging. 

How does this affect your company, website, app or ecommerce store?

If your website is hosted on US based servers, whether that’s via a US company or a local company with US hosting arrangements, then you will be affected by the changes to the Net Neutrality act, even though your company may not be a US entity.

How does this work ?

All US based hosting providers with servers in the US purchase their bandwidth from the major ISP’s - such as AT&T, Verizon, Google fiber , etc .

Once Net Neutrality  is fully revoked, these major providers will no longer be required by law to provide that even playing field we mentioned at he start of this article  .

This means they can tier the access to bandwidth and the speed of the connection at different price points.

In blunt terms, this means your website could get slower, or even be blocked entirely unless you pay more to have the same current access and speed that you have now, if you host with a US based company on servers located within the USA.

Whether this happens to you or not depends heavily on what your hosting provider has negotiated and is prepared to pay for, or subsidise.

What can you do about it.

Host locally wherever possible. Find a provider with servers in Australian or your local jurisdiction, or as close as you can get to the majority of your clients. 

What about AWS, Google and Microsoft - which are US companies with local servers.  Are you affected if you host on Sydney or other local servers with these companies ?

You are protected by local Australian laws, although not specific to Net Neutrality, the ACCC claims to be confident that our current laws are enough to protect consumers.  If your website is hosted on a local server - even if that server is maintained or provided by one of the big Cloud providers mentioned you should be safe. 

What if you're an Aussie company with International presence and US clients - how does this affect you ?

Your Australian clients will have the best experience of your web presence if you are hosting locally - however - you might have to replicate your website on several US based servers across different providers, in order to provide  the best experience possible to your US clients. This may come at significant extra cost, and at different price points depending on the providers and the ISP’s they work with. Several companies offer this as a service , including AWS, Google and Azure ( Microsoft).  

Your checklist / conclusions

  • Try to go local ( relative to your clients) - find a local reliable hosting provider — it might cost more, but you won’t be affected by Net Neutrality.
  • If you’re a local company with International Presence - start investigating options now to replace or host mirror sites.
  • If you are hosting with a local reseller ( ie someone who resells hosting on behalf of a larger provider) - check where exactly your site is hosted geographically.


Sixto Rodriguez : life, winning and what success really is.

I think by now, we all know the story of Sixto Rodriguez. A poet, a songwriter with lyrics like Dylan, haunting melodies, infectious music that digs into your soul and never leaves. Forgotten by America, loved, adored and worshipped in South Africa. Or so the Oscar winning Documentary goes.


I grew up straddled across the end of apartheid. Half my childhood happened before it ended, and the other half happened in a bright new Rainbow Nation struggling to find its identity without imploding on itself.

Photo of Steph with Family in South Africa in 2015 - picnic venue
My Crazy Family (missing a few peeps who couldn't make it) - this is winning in my book.

For me Rodriguez was, and always will be a superstar. I reckon I could sing the words to “I Wonder” before I could talk in full sentences. My parents loved his music, my grandparents loved his music.

 When children grow up as digital natives, they do not comprehend a world where you have to wait to phone someone for any reason whatsoever, similarly for me, it just never occurred to me that there could be a world, where “Sugarman” was not as big or as popular as any song from the Rolling Stones or Beatles.

So, finally in 2012, when I watched Searching for Sugarman from my home in Melbourne Australia, I was blown away.  I could not immediately and fully process the fact,  that the man I had thought of, and known as a mega-superstar, was completely unknown in his home country until recent years.
I was using my iPad while watching the DVD to google the director and producer of the movie, convinced that this was some elaborate hoax.
And since then, I have watched as he has finally been recognised as an artist in the USA, and across other parts of the world.
I had the opportunity to see him perform live in 2014. And I was not disappointed.
There are no pyrotechnics in his show.  He has none of the trappings of being famous normally associated with musicians his age. He is also a bit frail, and reportedly suffering from eye issues, so had to be escorted onto stage.There are no props, dancers, or any other extra bits normally associated with a live performance.
And yet - it was the best live show I have ever seen. Hands down.
Rodriguez' talent is humble, and great, all at once. He stands on stage, plays his guitar, sings his songs, and for everyone, it is enough. In fact is it more than enough, it is everything.
Rodriguez teaches us, that fame corrupts. That success is a matter of opinion. And what makes us happy, gives us meaning, and fills our souls, is what we should be doing with our days, our lives and our work.
And while it sounds like the enthused ravings of an obsessed fan, just stop and consider the brilliance, sincerity, and timelessness of his music.
He has new fans now, because the album is amazing. Not because we all feel sorry for him. Empathy alone could not translate into sold out shows across the globe. Facebook likes don't pay the bills or fill stadiums.
We will never know how badly disappointed he really was all those years ago, but all of us that have tried and failed know exactly what it is to put your life-blood into something and have it come to nothing.
We all know the heartache of making something that has every bit of our soul poured into it, and then finding out that actually no-one wants it.
So finally – what Rodriguez teaches us,  is about failure. And how it's never the end.
We learn to pivot and be happy, there is always another market, a different space, and sometimes the problem is timing.
So while many people focus the sad and "lost years" of non-fame in the USA. I prefer to ponder the joy of his later years.
No matter what your age, when you pour your soul into creating something, be it music, art, a company, or a product, there is always a small part of you that will find satisfaction in the recognition of your work.
I for one, take heart from Rodriguez, that somewhere, sometime, what I do will matter, and I will make a difference. It will come.


In 1971 the USA lost out on a great talent, but it’s never too late for an American Dream apparently, and so, at the “south side of 72” in 2014, Rodriguez has finally won.