Mapbox has grown from a tiny band of folks making open source maps in a garage–yes, an actual garage–to a multimillion dollar company that’s mounting a real challenge to the incumbent goliaths in the vital mapping industry.
We never would have gotten where we are if having fast, performant maps required handing million-dollar protection payments to the ISPs. Even though we’ve grown to have more resources, the threat of a tilted playing field still looms: Mapquest is owned by Verizon; Google is an ISP in its own right. Even map companies that don’t sell internet service, like Apple Maps, have to regularly cut deals with the mobile carriers.
Today we know that we will still be able to compete in the market on the basis of our product’s quality rather than whether we’re connected to the right monopolist. But Chairman Pai’s proposed rollback of net neutrality protections could change that.
We join Engine in calling for Congress to act. The public and growing businesses like ours deserve clarity on this issue rather than endless oscillation between administrations. And the public deserves guarantees that the internet we all depend on will continue to be shaped by dynamism and freedom rather than by who happens to own the pipes that connect us to it.
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