Today Neighborly is proud to join with hundreds of other companies and thousands of individuals in a day of action to save net neutrality. You may have noticed the banner on our site and similar notifications elsewhere.
You might be asking yourself, what does net neutrality have to do with municipal bonds?
Beyond our baseline commitment to ensuring equal access to quality technology, there are two main reasons we care about net neutrality with respect to the muni market, and you should too:
First, if any part of your investment process involves using the internet —from searching for the location of a municipality, to checking disclosures on EMMA, to setting up news alerts on issuers you have invested in—the way in which you use those websites may change. Without the principle of net neutrality requiring service providers to treat all traffic equally, you may find these pages load significantly more slowly compared to provider-generated content. Worse, these providers may charge fees to non-favored apps and sites, putting a non-competitive weight on their business model or forcing them to pass these fees on to consumers.
Second, if you’ve been keeping up with our work, it should come as no surprise that the problems that would be created by the end of net neutrality are similar to many of those we are trying to solve in the municipal market. Without a requirement to provide equal access, the internet would be a place in which those who are large enough to pay for access get “fast-lane” access and are able to promote their content directly to consumers. Similarly, in the muni market today, a comparatively small group of large broker dealers are able to offer their clients direct access to primary issuance, while others including small investment advisors and ordinary investors, have lower priority on their orders and often have to buy bonds in the secondary market instead.
We believe that markets function best when they are transparent and accessible to all on an equal footing. In both the muni market and on the internet, open access to information is fundamental to ensuring fairness. As we at Neighborly work to democratize access to public finance for both issuers and investors, we are proud to support the fight to keep Title II of the Communications Act in force, and to protect net neutrality! Find out more and learn how you can take part here.
This article was updated on 10/10/17.