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Protests of FCC Net-Neutrality Moves Planned in VA, D.C,.

FCC critics fear that without net neutrality, Internet service providers would be able to pick which websites and services would be available to consumers. (Pixabay)
FCC critics fear that without net neutrality, Internet service providers would be able to pick which websites and services would be available to consumers. (Pixabay)
December 7, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – Protesters are gathering in hundreds of cities and towns across the nation beginning Thursday to show support for a free and open Internet.

The Federal Communications Commission will vote next Thursday, Dec. 14 on whether to lift rules that keep Internet service providers from offering faster speeds to sites that can afford to pay higher fees, which would put small business and nonprofit websites at a big disadvantage.

Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, says providers might start partitioning off the Internet with packages that only give people access to specific sites.

"The fear is that without network neutrality, without that protection, the Internet service providers will have more power to charge you more to access certain sites or certain services,” he points out. “Historically, the example is that you might get charged more to use Netflix."

Large Internet providers have promised to be fair and keep consumers' best interests in mind.

But Mitchell worries providers could slow down connection speeds for website owners that don't pay higher fees, thus driving viewers to other, faster sites.

Find out more about local protests at events.battleforthenet.com.

A dozen protests are planned in Virginia, plus another half dozen in Washington.

Ajit Pai, who was appointed FCC chairman by President Donald Trump, says the market will curb any abuses.

But Mitchell notes that in many towns, big Internet service providers have a near monopoly.

"Most Americans only have one choice in high quality Internet access,” he points out. “Beyond that, they have to either take a lower quality service option or move."

In more than 30 states, local authorities have taken the matter into their own hands, organizing municipal companies that compete with the big ISPs but are required to operate in the public interest and seek to offer reasonably priced high speed Internet.





Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA