Net neu­tral­ity vote won’t af­fect Eas­ton Util­i­ties

FCC re­pealed ear­lier rul­ing on Dec. 14

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@star­dem.com

EAS­TON — With the re­cent Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion re­peal of net neu­tral­ity, Eas­ton Util­i­ties cus­tomers re­port­edly have noth­ing to worry about.

Ac­cord­ing to Eas­ton Util­i­ties, the town-owned util­i­ties cor­po­ra­tion, “We be­lieve there is noth­ing our cus­tomers should be con­cerned about re­gard­ing this change.”

“In 2015, the FCC sup­ported the con­cept that all web­sites on the in­ter­net should be treated equally,” Eas­ton Util­i­ties posted in a Dec. 15 Face­book post. “Just yes­ter­day, the FCC re­versed this rul­ing on net neu­tral­ity to al­low con­tent providers to block, cen­sor con­tent and speed up ac­cess to cer­tain sites. Eas­ton Ve­loc­ity sup­ports a free and open in­ter­net. We have not and will not block, slow down or pri­or­i­tize in­ter­net traf­fic.”

On Dec. 14, the FCC voted 3-2 to re­peal net neu­tral­ity. Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press, net neu­tral­ity is the prin­ci­ple that in­ter­net providers treat all web traf­fic equally, which is how the in­ter­net has worked since its cre­ation.

But reg­u­la­tors, con­sumer ad­vo­cates and in­ter­net com­pa­nies were con­cerned about what broad­band com­pa­nies could do with their power as the path­way to the in­ter­net — block­ing or slow­ing down apps that ri­val their own ser­vices, for ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the AP.

The FCC in 2015 ap­proved rules, on a party-line vote, that made sure ca­ble and phone com­pa­nies don’t ma­nip­u­late traf­fic. With them in place, a provider such as Com­cast can’t charge Net­flix for a faster path to its cus­tomers, or block it or slow it down, ac­cord­ing to the AP.

Ac­cord­ing to the AP, big tele­com com­pa­nies hate the stricter reg­u­la­tion that comes with the net neu­tral­ity rules and have fought them fiercely in court. They say the reg­u­la­tions can un­der­mine in­vest­ment in broad­band and in­tro­duced un­cer­tainty about what were ac­cept­able busi­ness prac­tices. There were con­cerns about po­ten­tial price reg­u­la­tion, even though the FCC had said it will not set prices for con­sumer in­ter­net ser­vice, the AP stated.

Ted L. Book, di­rec­tor of ca­ble and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Eas­ton Ve­loc­ity — Eas­ton Util­i­ties’ ca­ble and in­ter­net ser­vice — said the de­ci­sion to re­peal net neu­tral­ity “has no bear­ing on Eas­ton Ve­loc­ity’s day-to-day op­er­a­tions, nor does it im­pact how our cus­tomers ac­cess the in­ter­net.”

“Eas­ton Ve­loc­ity pro­vides in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity for our cus­tomers at which­ever speeds they choose to pur­chase,” Book wrote in a Fri­day, Dec. 22, state­ment.

The FCC de­ci­sion to re­peal net neu­tral­ity was harshly crit­i­cized by Demo­crat law­mak­ers in Congress.

“Equal ac­cess to the in­ter­net is not only fun­da­men­tal to in­di­vid­u­als, it’s also cru­cial to our econ­omy. Net neu­tral­ity cre­ates a level play­ing field for all com­pa­nies to com­pete and guar­an­tees an open in­ter­net for all Amer­i­cans, not just those who can af­ford to pay more,” U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said. “This move will sti­fle com­pe­ti­tion and put en­trenched cor­po­rate in­ter­ests ahead of in­no­va­tors, small busi­nesses, and Amer­i­can con­sumers.”

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