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Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: more testimony on the anti-protest bill; plus we will take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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Expanded Internet Access May Be Headed to Rural Utah

PHOTO: Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is seeking to regulate the Internet as a utility. Photo courtesy U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
PHOTO: Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is seeking to regulate the Internet as a utility. Photo courtesy U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
February 5, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - Internet use in Utah and across the nation soon may be regulated as a utility. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced yesterday he will seek to have the Internet classified under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Whitney Kimball Coe, program associate for the Center for Rural Strategies, says regulation should help ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field.

"The ability to maintain and to have access to places where you can contribute knowledge, and also gain knowledge," Kimball Coe says. "That just seems to be a basic human right at this point."

Under the proposed FCC regulations, broadband providers couldn't block or degrade access to legal online content, applications or services. They also wouldn't be allowed to favor some Internet traffic over others; in other words, no "fast lanes."

Kimball Coe says regulating the Internet also should benefit people in rural areas by expanding broadband access.

"This move to Title II or to classifying broadband or Internet as a utility would really close that digital divide that exists between rural and urban," she says. "It would also allow the FCC to regulate the Internet in a way that would make sure that rural areas have service."

Opponents argue that the proposal is overreaching and would stifle investment and customer choice. The
five-member commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed rules on Feb. 26.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT