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The Internet Could Be Considered a Utility in Florida


Friday, February 6, 2015   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The "Information Superhighway" may soon be regulated as a utility - and that could mean better and fairer access.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced this week that he will seek to have the Internet regulated under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Whitney Kimball Coe, a program associate for the Center for Rural Strategies, said 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 - that just seems to be a basic human right at this point," she said.

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 said 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 said, "and it would also allow the FCC to regulate the Internet in a way that would make sure that we have service, 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.

The FCC's proposed regulations are online at

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