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Monthly Archives: February 2015

The internet will be a utility – this is the first step

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the agency will vote on new rules governing the internet. His plan seems to align with the best case scenario for most consumer and internet freedom groups by reclassifying internet service providers under Title II, which would allow the FCC to treat internet connections similar to phone lines. This would allow the FCC to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from charging money to give one company faster internet speeds (such as giving Netflix greater speed to your home than a new competitor).

Assuming everything goes through, and the rules are upheld in court, this is a huge win for consumers. Just huge. And one I think was not a sure thing. For a long time, the FCC sat on the sidelines while internet service providers offered poor service for high prices and refused to invest in improving either part of their business. Only about a week ago did the FCC finally upgrade what speed would define a broadband connection, a delay that has helped the U.S. lag almost every other rich country in terms of access to high speed internet.

Overall, this may be the most consumer friendly FCC and one that will help innovation and investment, not stifle it as ISPs like to claim. In fact, broadband investment has already been declining

 

This, of course, has happened because of a lack of competition. After the increase in minimum broadband rates, Comcast alone has 56% of the national market. And Comcast wants to merge with Time Warner, a company they already admit they don’t compete with (thanks to agreements that allowed they to split territory to avoid competition).

Hopefully the FCC will continue it’s amazing willingness to stand up to the industry’s fearmongering and push for a fairer market. Now how about overturning those bans on municipal broadband? Let cities build their own broadband if they want. The only reason these laws exist is to block competition.