Ask Marty: How does the net neutrality court ruling affect dental offices?

2014 02 13 13 44 51 873 Ask Marty200x200

Q: What does the recent appeals court ruling about net neutrality mean for my dental office?

A: Many of you may heard about a recent appeals court ruling that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority to bar Internet service providers (ISP) from favoring one type of traffic over another. What this means is data are not data anymore. The same ones and zeros can mean different things based on where the data originate or what the data may contain. Your ISP can now determine what and how much it costs you, the consumer, for different types of data. So surfing to may have a different cost than watching a movie from Netflix.

Previously, the FCC had argued that it has the authority to require Internet services companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to treat all Internet packets (data) crossing its network equally.

If you want to know more about net neutrality and the appeals court decision then surf on over to this article on Re/code.

Now, how may this affect your dental office? For now, nothing will change. Data will be treated as data. In the future, you may potentially see longer upload times for your online backups as your ISP throttles back your bandwidth.

If your ISP thinks you are using too much bandwidth or wants to squeeze more revenue out of you because your imaging database online backup uses more data every day, it can. It may charge you more for the increased use of bandwidth. This changing of the data rules may be similar to what we now see with cellular data, with data caps and slowing of speeds if you exceed your data cap.

All your worries might go away if you are willing to pay more for the privilege. Other possibilities will be if you use specific data services, you may be able to use this bandwidth, but someone else will pay it for. The example of this type of arrangement is what Google does with most of its services such as Gmail. Give the service away in exchange for information. Pay your bandwidth costs in exchange for something else.

So, for now, nothing changes, but who knows what the future may bring.

Marty Jablow, DMD, lectures and consults extensively about integrating technologies into the modern dental practice ( If you have a technology question for Dr. Jablow, send it to [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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