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PNS Daily Newscast - September 24 


The ground rules seem to have been set concerning the sexual assault allegations against nominee Brett Kavenaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: we will take you to a state where more than 60 thousand kids are chronically absent; plus the rural digital divide a two-fold problem for Kentucky.

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Is Trump's FCC Pick Threat to Open Internet?

Advocates for net neutrality worry that under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission may reverse course on its rules to treat the Internet like a utility. (Pixabay)
Advocates for net neutrality worry that under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission may reverse course on its rules to treat the Internet like a utility. (Pixabay)
January 30, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guaranteed equal access to the Internet two years ago, when the regulatory agency passed net neutrality, backed by the Obama administration.

Nearly 4 million public comments helped cement the open Internet rules. But will they survive?

President Donald Trump's choice for FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, has called net neutrality a "massive intrusion into the Internet economy."

Marty Newell, who coordinates the Rural Broadband Policy Group, says the rules are "a guard against overreach" by corporate interests.

He fears without this protection, content from big providers will make it onto the Web's fast lane, pushing other providers to the slow lane.

"What worries me is that small folks are going to have a hard time finding room – that they're going to get moved aside – and that doesn't serve consumers well,” he states. “It also doesn't serve entrepreneurs well."

Newell says it could especially hurt those in rural areas trying to deliver goods or services online.

But when Pai announced his opposition to the net neutrality decision, he said the rules created "less choice and less free data for consumers."

Pai, who has been with the FCC since 2012, maintains the Internet was already "open and free."

"And so, in my view, net neutrality rules are a solution in search of a problem," he states.

Newell says the nation's history in treating telephone service as a utility illustrates the importance of regulating common carriers. He says monopolies don't tend to serve consumers well – especially in under-served, rural areas.

"We've moved past where a telephone is a telephone,” he stresses. “Now, the Internet is as much that communications tool as anything."

For that reason, Newell says the simple notion of an equal information highway must continue.

"All legal content and all users get the same even-handed treatment, and we're not picking winners,” he states. “Without that rule, corporate interests get to pick the winners."




Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT