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FCC Internet Ruling Could Impact Rural Nevadans

PHOTO: A leading advocate for rural America, Dee Davis, says potential FCC rule changes to the Internet could be another blow to those regions of the country still waiting for affordable broadband service. Photo credit: Greg Stotelmyer/Public News Service.
PHOTO: A leading advocate for rural America, Dee Davis, says potential FCC rule changes to the Internet could be another blow to those regions of the country still waiting for affordable broadband service. Photo credit: Greg Stotelmyer/Public News Service.
May 14, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal that could create an Internet "fast lane" and impact rural areas in Nevada and across the nation.

Basically, the FCC could approve action that would allow Internet service providers to sell faster Internet speeds to businesses that can afford it.

While the potential changes are "subtle," Dee Davis, founder and president of the Center for Rural Strategies, said he fears they would be another blow to areas of the nation still waiting for affordable high-speed service.

"Rural communities who haven't yet really gotten the full access to the power of the Internet are going to be left out when these rules shake down," he said.

Davis chairs the National Rural Assembly, a coalition of organizations with the goal of building a stronger, more vibrant rural America.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has tried to mute criticism, claiming on the agency's website that there "is no turnaround in policy" and "behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted." Still, Davis is concerned that changes to the rules will give big providers the chance to play favorites.

"What we're going to see is fewer start-ups, fewer mom-and-pop, rural, untethered, inner-city kinds of organizations being able to make their mark," he said.

The FCC is set to review proposed changes when it meets Thursday. The bottom line, Davis said, is that the FCC needs to keep the Internet "fair and open" - a concept that net neutrality has protected.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV