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PNS Daily Newscast - September 24 


The ground rules seem to have been set concerning the sexual assault allegations against nominee Brett Kavenaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: we will take you to a state where more than 60 thousand kids are chronically absent; plus the rural digital divide a two-fold problem for Kentucky.

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Internet Fast Lanes Could Limit CT Access to "World Commons"

PHOTO: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, seen here (top left) at a meeting in January in Oakland, Calif., has signaled his support for rules that may threaten net neutrality by allowing broadband service to some companies at higher speed for higher prices. A pushback by opponents is forming quickly. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer.
PHOTO: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, seen here (top left) at a meeting in January in Oakland, Calif., has signaled his support for rules that may threaten net neutrality by allowing broadband service to some companies at higher speed for higher prices. A pushback by opponents is forming quickly. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer.
April 28, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. - Net neutrality defenders in New England and the nation are sending out distress signals about an FCC proposal to create broadband speed lanes. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler previewed the pending change that would allow Internet service providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable to charge content providers like ESPN or Netflix higher prices for faster download speeds.

Mike Hoefer is a Web designer and consultant in New Hampshire who says the proposal could make it more expensive for businesses in small towns all over New England that use broadband to level their playing field.

"In a market that's dominated more and more by big players like Amazon and Walmart, broadband allows small niche businesses to get their goods online in their small town of 300 people," Hoefer said.

Between now and May 15, when the Commission will formally act, numerous public interest groups are plotting push-back efforts that include petitions, pressure on members of Congress, and public protests.

At the Center for Media Justice, policy director amalia deloney says her group's supporters participated in a Tweet chat last week that included two FCC commissioners. The topic was women and technology, but she says concerns about net neutrality dominated the online conversation.

"Question after question, just constantly, was about what the commissioners were going to do to protect women to ensure they had fair and equal access on the Internet, to ensure that their start-up companies were able to thrive," she said.

Mike Hoefer is also concerned about potential social costs of the FCC proposal, which he says could reduce access to what he calls the world's "last great commons," a place for the free exchange of ideas.

"My concern is that increased prices for businesses and/or increased price for consumers will restrict that access to the commons, and make it more of a private playground versus this great melting pot of information and technology."

He says the proposal is particularly troubling for small New England towns, many of which have access to only one Internet provider.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT