Friday, May 9, 2014

The FCC and Net Neutrality

On May 15th, the FCC will issue new proposed regulations concerning "Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet", proceeding #14-28. Comments from the public have been solicited prior to the publication of these proposed regulations. The following is a comment I submitted to the FCC about this proceeding.

The only way to insure that new pay-to-play schemes do not drive up prices for consumers is to re-classify broadband as telecommunications infrastructure. Net neutrality was promised to us by President Barack Obama, the person who nominated the current FCC Chair.

The reclassification would allow the FCC to issue regulations as needed to insure net neutrality. Retaining the current classification of broadband as an information service means that any new regulation efforts would just result in more lawsuits, and more court decisions saying that the FCC exceeded its regulatory authority.

Senator Al Franken calls net neutrality, “the free speech issue of our time. We cannot allow the FCC to implement a pay-to-play system that silences our voices and amplifies that of big corporate interests.”

"In 2012, [Comcast] imposed data caps that stifled all online video streaming -- except from Comcast-owned content provider Xfinity..." While this apparently changed because of promises that Comcast made in order to secure approval for its merger with NBC-Universal, that promise has an expiration date. There is no reason to assume that after that expiration date, Comcast will not resume its corporate favoritism in an effort to increase its profits (though we might get a short stay if Comcast needs to grease the wheels for yet another merger, this time with Time Warner Cable).

Comcast also just implemented steep rate hikes that hit independent cable companies hard, and for many consumers (myself included) that meant the loss of some popular cable channels.

Now Comcast is on track to control nearly 40 percent of the broadband market in the U.S., and its past history clearly shows that without real net neutrality, consumers will be the losers. And the same is true for other broadband providers such as Verizon.

It is time for the FCC to act in the public interest. It is time for the FCC to reclassify broadband services, and issue net neutrality regulations that will not be thrown out in court.

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