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Can U.S. Senate Save Net Neutrality?

Current consumer Internet protections are slated to expire June 11. (Pixabay)
Current consumer Internet protections are slated to expire June 11. (Pixabay)
May 14, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Supporters of a free and open Internet in Kentucky are making a last ditch plea to federal lawmakers to save net neutrality.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a Congressional Review Act resolution to block the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of 2015 consumer Internet protections, which expire June 11.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, who joined more than 20 state attorneys general in a lawsuit challenging the rollback, says net neutrality is good public policy.

"I've heard from the people of Kentucky in all walks of life that want to make the free and open Internet part of federal law,” he states.

Marty Newell, coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group at the Center for Rural Strategies, says the rollback would give unlimited control to four major companies that could slow down or block Internet service.

"And in rural America, if we're competing against folks that can afford to buy faster lanes or afford to slow us down, then it's not a level playing field," he points out.

FCC chair Ajit Pai calls the net neutrality regulations unnecessary and harmful, and says a new framework will be established that will encourage innovation and investment and compel broadband providers to disclose their practices.

Beshear contends that, much like a utility, an open Internet is a crucial part of Kentucky's infrastructure.

"This rollback is basically like the government giving all of our interstates (highways) over to one or two corporations that can decide when you can get on, when you can get off, and they can even change where you're going and dictate how fast you can get there," he stresses.

Some opponents maintain net neutrality deters investment in broadband infrastructure.

But Newell points out that is not in line with what companies such as AT and T and Comcast have reported to their shareholders and in FCC filings.

"And they have only said that they have increased their investment, that they are continuing to push out deployment to unserved and underserved areas, and that a stable regulatory environment is a better deal for them than an uncertain one," he states.

A University of Maryland poll found the majority of voters of all parties oppose repealing net neutrality.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY