FCC to Vote on New Rules for Internet Regulation

Today, the FCC will vote on new rules for regulating the Internet. Everyone (except big telecom companies) is afraid that the FCC’s decision may allow Internet service providers to give preferential treatment to high-paying customers, thereby destroying Net Neutrality.

Should the FCC’s ruling disappoint us, there may be another way. Read on.

The Internet as a Utility

Business Insider says:

The FCC is open to classifying broadband internet as something called a Title II service, which is the same distinction given to phone lines back in the dialup internet days. In essence, Title II would turn broadband internet into a utility, something that’s important enough to communication, economic growth, and innovation to be regulated by the government just like phone lines are.

Reclassifying the Internet as a utility would be an ideal solution. Not only would consumers benefit, but it would help create a national infrastructure that would attract more businesses to the U.S. (Think of the jobs and innovation!)

Presently, the U.S. has slow, costly Internet service, compared to other advanced nations. The big telecom companies, so keen to reap even greater profits off the Internet, have added little value to it. How could they? The Internet is an infrastructure they did not create and do not own.

Plan B – Municipally Owned Fiber-Optic Networks

If the FCC gives a disappointing ruling today, perhaps it will be time to take another route. How about municipally owned fiber-optic networks? Chattanooga has done it, and it works!

Fast Internet Is Chattanooga’s New Locomotive

‘Gig City,’ as Chattanooga is sometimes called, has what city officials and analysts say was the first and fastest — and now one of the least expensive — high-speed Internet services in the United States. For less than $70 a month, consumers enjoy an ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic connection that transfers data at one gigabit per second. That is 50 times the average speed for homes in the rest of the country, and just as rapid as service in Hong Kong, which has the fastest Internet in the world.

It takes 33 seconds to download a two-hour, high-definition movie in Chattanooga, compared with 25 minutes for those with an average high-speed broadband connection in the rest of the country. Movie downloading, however, may be the network’s least important benefit.

‘It created a catalytic moment here,’ said Sheldon Grizzle, the founder of the Company Lab, which helps start-ups refine their ideas and bring their products to market. ‘The Gig,’ as the taxpayer-owned, fiber-optic network is known, ‘allowed us to attract capital and talent into this community that never would have been here otherwise.’

Edward Wyatt, The New York Times

If more municipally owned fiber-optic networks crop up, the big telecoms may yet learn the meaning of competition.