Others’ Opinion: Tell FCC to keep Web access equal for all

Published 9:28 am Friday, July 18, 2014

—St. Cloud Times

Unless your home page is www.headinthesand.gov , you probably know the FCC is trying to draft new regulations governing how information flows to and through the Internet.

This “net neutrality” debate hinges on whether the FCC should allow Internet service providers to set up deals with companies to stream their content faster than others. Many big ISPs (think Verizon, AT&T, etc) want that option. Opponents, of which this Editorial Board is one, say Internet access should be equal for all.

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Friday marks an important date for you to share your opinion. That’s when the FCC will close the public comment period involving its latest proposals, issued in May.

The period was supposed to close Tuesday, but so many people were — yes — using the Internet to weigh in, the FCC’s website basically crashed. You can visit www.fcc.gov/comments and submit comments under “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet.” Or you can send an email to openinternet@fcc.gov.

Upon closing and review of these comments, another public comment opportunity will open when the FCC releases follow-up information.

Understandably, interest is high both for the mega-sized providers and, more importantly, the mega millions of small businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs that face an uneven playing field under potential “preferred access” deals.

Look no further than Facebook, Google, Twitter and Netflix. Each started as a fledgling operation. Thanks to an open Internet, each became hugely successful. That access is why they all joined many companies in the Internet Association, which is pushing “to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules for wired and mobile networks.” A trio of points make their case very compelling:

• The Internet should be free from censorship, discrimination and anti-competitive behavior, protected by simple and enforceable rules that ensure a consumer’s equal access to content they want.

• Broadband subscribers should get the bandwidth they are paying for — content should be treated equally, without degradations in speed or quality. No artificial slow lanes.

• No matter how users choose to connect to the Internet, net neutrality rules should apply universally on wireless and wired networks.

Agree? Disagree? Jump on the Internet by Friday to share your views with FCC.