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FCC Internet Regulation Could Keep Wyoming Connected

PHOTO: High-speed, broadband Internet would be classified as a utility under a proposal from the chair of the FCC that would ensure "net neutrality." Speedier Internet service in rural areas could also be the result. Photo credit: Susan Moore/Pixabay.
PHOTO: High-speed, broadband Internet would be classified as a utility under a proposal from the chair of the FCC that would ensure "net neutrality." Speedier Internet service in rural areas could also be the result. Photo credit: Susan Moore/Pixabay.
February 5, 2015

CASPER, Wyo. - High-speed, broadband Internet would be classified as a utility under a proposal expected later this month from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

FCC chair Tom Wheeler outlined the plan Wednesday, saying the regulations are needed to keep service providers from blocking access to sites or slowing down connection speeds.

Whitney Kimball Coe, program associate at the Center for Rural Strategies, says there's also hope the classification will lead to greater Internet service being extended to small communities, similar to basic telephone service.

"While net neutrality's become a big issue, we're still talking about the need for access and not just wanting a faster Internet," she says. "We want to actually get on the Internet."

Internet providers have rejected such regulation, claiming it would harm investment and innovation, although Wheeler is promoting the plan as a way to encourage more innovation.

Kimball Coe says the proposal also reflects the importance of being connected in today's world.

"We believe it's a human right," she says. "The ability to communicate and have access to places where you can contribute knowledge and also gain knowledge just seems to be a basic human right at this point."

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY