John Ross, the new president/CEO of IGA Inc., this week has sent an email to his system’s retailers not just taking issue with the expected decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “to dismantle current net neutrality rules that require Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet the same.” In addition, Ross is calling on IGA retailers “to care about this issue, and do everything in your power to keep net neutrality alive … you need to use your local clout to help too. Call your representatives and the FCC directly to tell them net neutrality rules are essential to the health of independent retailers.”

An excerpt from the letter:

“While freedom of speech and protecting the public's internet rights to stream movies and download music for free may be what people are talking about most, in reality, that's not even the real story here.

“The real story is about the telecom industry, and how killing net neutrality will give them license to charge new internet gateway premiums that accelerate their margins and discriminate against smaller players on the Internet.

“You see, today the FCC legislation equalizes the playing field for everyone online. High volume, low volume, it doesn't matter. Big brands and entrepreneurs - like IGA independent retailers - have the same access to the web, regardless of the scope of their products and services.

“But if the net neutrality rules are struck down, that means the telecom giants can charge premiums any way they want. In theory, big, high traffic users like Amazon or Netflix would be charged more because they suck up a lot of bandwidth. But if you take a step back and think about the way business really works, we all know it's pretty unlikely that the heavy hitters will be the ones actually taking the hit.
Big brands with massive leverage and enormous scale don't pay the tolls - the little guys do. Netflix, Google, Amazon and large retail chains engaged heavily in e-commerce will be able to keep their costs low as telecom giants instead hike up the fees for smaller internet users. Scale almost always rules in economic models, and this space is no different.”

Ross goes on: “It's true that right now the grocery industry isn't heavily dependent on e-commerce. But that will change, probably faster than anyone thinks. And do we really want another situation where big brands like Walmart get yet another competitive advantage?”

KC's View: I’m impressed, and not just by the position, with which I agree. (I’ve said this here before, and I know some of you disagree with me.)

Ross has been in the job for about six weeks, and he’s not just taking a public position on an issue that may seem esoteric and/or irrelevant to some supermarket retailers, but he’s also taking one that runs counter to the stated position of the Trump administration, for which at least some of his member retailers probably voted.