by Rylee Wedekind, 5NINES Member

I’m one of the co-founders of 5NINES and I am proud to be a small independent Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the Madison area for the past 20 years.

As a GenXer, I can remember the world before the internet. Information passed slowly.  If you were lucky, you had a set of encyclopedias to provide the information you needed to know. If you were not so lucky, it could mean the reference book you needed from the school or public library was already checked out.    It amazes me every day how integral a part of our lives the Internet has become in the past 30 years, and to imagine a world without it.

The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, work, learn, and entertain ourselves. However, the internet is not free from problems, and one of the most pressing issues in my opinion is the lack of competition in the internet service provider (ISP) market. In many parts of the U.S., there are only a few dominant ISPs, which means consumers have limited choices and are often subject to high prices and poor service. This is where independent internet service providers (ISPs) like 5NINES come in. Let’s take a look at the benefits of independent ISPs and why they are essential for a healthy internet ecosystem.

First and foremost, independent ISPs provide much-needed competition in the market. When there are only a few dominant ISPs, they have a virtual monopoly over the market, which means they can charge whatever prices they want and provide subpar service because customers have no other options. However, when there are independent ISPs in the market, they provide an alternative for consumers, which means the dominant ISPs have to compete with them on prices, service quality, and other factors. This competition benefits consumers, as it results in lower prices, better service, and more choices.

Secondly, independent ISPs are often more responsive to the needs of their customers. Because they are smaller and more agile than their larger counterparts, independent ISPs can offer more personalized service and are better able to adapt to changes in the market. They are also more likely to be invested in the local community, which means they are more attuned to the needs of their customers and are more responsive to their feedback.

Thirdly, independent ISPs are often more innovative than larger ISPs. Because they are smaller and more nimble, independent ISPs can experiment with new technologies and services that larger ISPs may not be able to. In 5NINES case, we began offering Wireless Internet around 2005 when few others were offering it. This means that customers of independent ISPs are more likely to benefit from new and innovative services, which can enhance their internet experience.

Finally, independent ISPs are important for promoting net neutrality. Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination or preference given to certain types of traffic or providers. This principle is essential for a free and open internet. However, dominant ISPs may be tempted to violate net neutrality principles to gain a competitive advantage. Independent ISPs, on the other hand, have a vested interest in promoting net neutrality because it is the only way they can compete on a level playing field with larger ISPs.

Independent ISPs are essential for a healthy internet ecosystem. They provide much-needed competition, are usually more responsive to the needs of their customers, are more innovative, and promote net neutrality. If you want to support free and open internet, consider switching to an independent ISP like 5NINES.