Can we still save net neutrality?
In a bid to polish its collective image to the public, the telecom industry has always painted FCC’s recent repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules as “restoring internet freedom.” In fact, they are deliberately distancing the potential profits they are bound to make because of the repeal and has promised in the past that not much will change – no blocking or throttling of internet speeds for some sites and certainly no paid fast lanes.
Obviously, not everyone believes in their spin. In fact, net neutrality supporters vow to challenge FCC’s decision and have it reinstated. Meanwhile, states have taken a damage control stance on the issue and have taken steps to continue to protect net neutrality in their jurisdiction. One such state is Washington, which earned the distinction of being the first state to enact its own legislation after FCC’s repeal.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has finally taken a stand on the issue and has recognized that the federal government doing away with the net neutrality rules is a bad thing for Americans. According to the organization, what everyone needs is “an internet provider that they can trust and is accountable to the public, not profits.”
And the group even has a way of how American can find just a kind of internet service provider. The best way to continue “implementing the net neutrality and privacy protections” is for municipal governments to provide the service themselves.
The organization views the internet as a utility that, unfortunately, not every American has access to. “The internet has become a crucial utility, yet unlike water and electricity, quality broadband service in the U.S. is far from universal,” UCLA said in the report.” Twenty-four million Americans don’t have access to high-speed internet at home, either because it’s not available or too expensive. Lack of access to decent broadband is especially bad in low-income or rural areas and communities of color.”
The organization points out the there is very little competition in this segment with most consumers only have a couple of for-profit ISPs as options. This non-competitive environment and the ISPs’ focus on profits are the reasons why connection speeds in the U.S. remain slow compared to other nations.
The report claims that the community broadband structure has already been tried and tested. Residents in hundreds of towns, counties, and cities have found out the municipally-owned ISPs provide faster and even cheaper broadband service compared to private companies.
ACLU has already sent the report to 100 mayors and top town officials across the country as it could prove useful for them if they want to implement the project in their hometowns. Furthermore, the report already included detailed guidelines, rules, and oversight process.
There is just one problem with ACLU’s recommendation of municipal broadband though. At the moment, there are around 21 states have laws that either limit or ban the build-out of municipal networks. Apparently, these laws were put in place under the influence big ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink or Charter, businesses that would benefit.
As the fight for net neutrality rages on, it might be helpful to know which companies or networks remain neutral. Fortunately, dnet is one such entity and has committed to enforcing the principle in its operations.