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FCC Votes Today on Rules to Regulate Internet

PHOTO: The FCC is due to vote Thursday on proposed rules that would essentially reclassify the Internet and regulate it as if it were a utility, thereby ensuring net neutrality. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Justice.
PHOTO: The FCC is due to vote Thursday on proposed rules that would essentially reclassify the Internet and regulate it as if it were a utility, thereby ensuring net neutrality. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Justice.
February 26, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. - A vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday could affect the Internet in New Mexico and across the nation.

The five-member commission is considering rules that could regulate the Internet as a utility. Speaking earlier this month at the University of Colorado at Boulder, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who supports the action, said his goal is to ensure the Internet remains "a level playing field."

"Where there is no choice, the market can't work," said Wheeler. "American families need to be able to shop for affordable prices and faster speeds, and the commission is committed to removing barriers to broadband investment and competition."

Under the proposed FCC regulations, broadband providers could not 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." Opponents argue the proposal is overreaching and would stifle investment and customer choice.

Wheeler says the rules seek to have impact in more than 20 states with laws that don't allow communities to start their own broadband networks. He says another goal is to expand broadband access in rural areas.

"Seventeen percent of households, that's one in six Americans, don't have access to 25-meg broadband," said Wheeler. "Rural and tribal areas are disproportionately being left behind."

Wheeler says the Internet has become a critical part of life, and cites research that projects future Americans may have up to 100 connected computing devices working for them.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM