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Michigan Expert: Net Neutrality Not a Problem that Needs Solving

The head of the FCC maintains net neutrality rules shackle the cable and telecom industries. (Pixabay)
The head of the FCC maintains net neutrality rules shackle the cable and telecom industries. (Pixabay)
July 12, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – After winning the battle for open Internet rules two years ago, net neutrality advocates are hoping a wave of public comments can help them keep the rules in place.

Net Neutrality Day of Action is an online protest Wednesday of the Federal Communications Commission's recent decision to roll back its 2015 rule guaranteeing consumers equal access to the Internet.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says the regulations shackle the cable and telecom industries.

But media expert and industry consultant Amanda Lotz of the University of Michigan disagrees.

"This isn't a problem that needs to be solved,” she insists. “Internet service providers in many cases are monopoly providers in communities and they're making a lot of money. It's not that they're lacking money for innovation and development. They're in very good positions."

ISP giants, such as Comcast and Verizon, would be allowed to charge content providers more for higher speeds. They maintain they will not block content.

The FCC is currently in its public comment period before finalizing its decision on loosening the rules. Nearly 4 million public comments helped usher in the current net neutrality rule.

Marty Newell, coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group, says the nation's history in treating telephone service as a utility illustrates the importance of regulating common carriers, especially in under-served rural areas where it can help small businesses compete.

"Content being generated in rural America is not going to be the big guys who can afford to buy their way into a faster Internet," he states.

Lotz adds that it's the consumers, not the stockholders of Internet companies that will pay the price as well as non-profit, educational and governmental entities.

"Whether it's the library, whether it's an educational institution, they're potentially in a position where they're going to be disadvantaged because they just don't have the money to pay to exist at these faster speeds," he states.

Amazon, Vimeo and Netflix are among the tech companies that support net neutrality.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI