We need to fight for net neutrality

Friday, December 1, 2017

When somebody mentions the need for a “free internet,” a lot of us may assume that by definition the internet is not free. After all, we have to pay for our monthly services, right?

That includes a data plan for various speeds; cable services usually rolled in and of course, the modem rental if you don’t opt to purchase it. However, at the moment, our internet service providers (ISPs) are not able to charge us additional costs for services due to current regulations.

This could all change in two weeks if we don’t do something about it. As it stands, current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai plans to repeal our current legislation regarding net neutrality on Dec. 14.

According to Pai, by disregarding current regulations there would be less government control against businesses, allowing them to focus instead on innovation and infrastructure. While this sounds good on paper, the current hypothetical is it would allow ISPs to control which services you are able to use in your home depending on your provider.

A common example that is being thrown around would be streaming services. In this day and age, having a Netflix account is something some believe is almost mandatory. The hypothetical states that if a service such as Hulu was paying your internet provider more money than Netflix was, the provider would slow down your Netflix streaming services to a crawl in order to have you more tempted to switch to another streaming service. Again, hypothetically, if you wanted to keep with Netflix rather than switching, you would have to pay an additional fee.

Imagine having your favorite websites unavailable to your unless you were willing to pay even more money than you currently do for a bundle to include them. This is what the hypothetical is really leaning towards.

“Why don’t I just change my provider to fit my needs?” you may ask yourself. Think about this for a moment: how many options do we really have here in Greene County? With how rural a majority of the county is, the biggest and best providers don’t often have coverage in our area, forcing us to choose between a very limited number of networks.

Now imagine how much worse that could be for us if that hypothetical comes to pass and we are charged even more for a service we do not like in the first place.

At this point, we all need to make our voices heard, and luckily there are several ways to do so. If you would like to leave a comment on the FCC’s website, simply go to www.gofccyourself.com . While this may seem like an impractical joke, the domain was purchased by comedian John Oliver in order to simplify the process. Once there, hit the “Express” button and leave a comment.

There is also the option of contacting Pai himself, where he can be reached on Twitter, @AjitPaiFCC, or by emailing him from www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/ajit-pai.

You can also contact our area representative, Larry Bucshon, at www.bucshon.house.gov/contact.

No matter which way this vote goes, we are all going to be impacted. If it is something you all feel is important, we highly encourage you to get involved and let your voice be known.